Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant. While some people call it a simple stimulant others call it an elixir from the gods. There are those of us that cannot imagine a busy work day without it. There are others that cannot have caffeine or just don’t want to have it. Whether you love caffeine or hate it, there are potential benefits to having it and potential side effects.

Natural sources of caffeine include coffee, tea, and cocoa. Caffeine can also be found in soda, energy drinks and headache medication. If you want to experience health benefits from moderate amounts of caffeine, natural sources are best. It is also best to ingest caffeine in moderation.

For those of us who love a morning cup of coffee there may be some good news. There are potential health benefits of caffeine especially in coffee. Energy and alertness and two of the most common reasons people enjoy caffeine so much. Caffeine may help you have more stamina for exercises which may help you get into shape and possibly lose weight. It is a natural diuretic so it may help lessen water weight, prevent bladder infections, and prevent painful kidney stones. It may help lower the risk of some cancers and mental decline from old age. Caffeine may also help relieve asthma symptoms.

Caffeine can also be addictive and is not safe for everyone. There is the possibility of withdrawal symptoms if you abruptly stop the use of caffeine. People with high blood pressure or other heart related issues should be very careful. Caffeine has the potential to cause elevated blood pressure. People with heartburn, IBS or other stomach disorders should also be careful. Caffeine can also increase anxiety and disturb sleep patterns. Caffeine can also contribute to bone loss.

Things to remember if you consume caffeine:

If you are on any medication consult a physician or pharmacist on the potential for adverse reactions.

Consult a physician if you have a serious medical condition.

Be aware of your body and how it reacts to caffeine. If your heart rate increases, you experience heart palpitations, increased anxiety, trouble sleeping or other adverse effects you may want to stop consuming caffeine and/or consult a health care provider.

You may become addicted.

Moderation is the key to enjoying caffeine. Do not consume more that 2-3 cups of coffee or tea a day.

Do not consume for at least four hours before going to bed.

Make sure you are getting enough calcium and weight bearing exercise to help keep your bones strong and healthy.

I am not telling you if you should or should not consume caffeine. I will leave that up to you and your health care provider. I will tell you that I enjoy caffeine in moderation. I drank a cup of coffee to help combat some asthma issues and help me concentrate on writing. I am not embarrassed to admit that sometimes I need a little boost.

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