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Caffeine... Friend or Foe

Caffeine is one of the most talked about nutritional compounds within todays world. There is a constant rise of high street coffee shops and new energy drinks and sports supplements, It therefore is not surprising that caffeine intake has been increased. However is it good or bad for us?

 

How is Caffeine Formed?

Caffeine is a natural chemical formed in the seeds, fruit and leaves of some plants. It occurs in many quantities within tea, coffee, cola drinks and cocoa products. It is also artificially extracted and added to energy drinks, sports supplements and pharmaceutical products such as cold remedies.

 

Effects of Caffeine 

Although its a naturally occurring chemical, it is still a stimulant on the nervous system. Many effects of caffeine are known to increase mental alertness, reaction time, lose of drowsiness, increased performance and increased fat metabolism. However it is also noted that Caffeine increases blood pressure, causes headaches, increased water excretion, lose of calcium and caffeine dependency.

 

How Much Should I Have?

Drinking around 1-5 cups of tea or coffee a day will stimulate the central nervous system – raising mental performance and increasing reaction time – without any side effects. High intakes begin at around 700mg a day. This equates to about 7-10 cups a day. At this level, stimulant effects on the nervous system are reversed and mental performance is reduced. This can result in headaches, anxiety and sleep disruption.

 

Overview

Caffeine in moderate amounts will not cause any negative health effects. For most of the population, consumption of higher amounts can also be tolerated, but aim to consume less than 700mg a day. Those looking for energy boosts should restrict products such as energy drinks for the odd occasion.

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