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Are You Addicted to Coffee?

Do you have trouble getting started in the morning without having a cup of coffee? Many people have adopted drinking a morning cup of 'Joe' as a daily ritual to start their engines-and even more drink it throughout the day to keep going. If you find you can't get your day started without a caffeine fix, you could be addicted to it.

What Caffeine Does To The Body

When you drink coffee-or anything else that has caffeine as an ingredient-your central nervous system gets a mild jolt. The presence of caffeine in your system does a number of things. It 'wakes up' your brain, gets your digestive tract going, speeds up your metabolism and raises the brain levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood. Because caffeine is known to help release additional free fatty acids for energy, some people will drink a cup of coffee or take caffeine pills before they workout. That's the good news, but here are some of the negative side effects of too much caffeine consumption.

High Doses Of Caffeine Can Cause:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Indigestion
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness
  • Dehydration from diuresis (need to frequently urinate)

As a rule, the smaller you are, the less caffeine you need to bring on the desired effects. However, caffeine sensitivity is usually affected by the amount of daily caffeine consumption. If you regularly drink beverages containing caffeine you'll quicklydevelop a reduced sensitivity to caffeine.This means you'll need a higher dose of caffeine to achieve the same effects as someone who doesn't drink caffeinated drinksevery day.In short, the more caffeine youtake in, the more caffeine you'll need to feel the same effects.

Caffeine doesn't stay in your system for very long. It moves through the body within a few hours after it's consumed and is then passed through the urine. While it's not stored in the body, you may feel its effects for up to 6 hours if you're sensitive to it.

Coffee And Your Teenager
Whether they're burning the midnight oil late at night doing homework or hanging out with friends at a local coffeehouse after school, coffee drinking has become popular with many teenagers. With all of caffeine's negative side effects, should parents be worried about their teen's coffee drinking habits? According to Toronto based Registered Dietician Doug Cook, parents don't have to be worried but they should definitely be aware of how much coffee their teens' drink. "Caffeine can interfere with deep sleep that may affect teens' schoolwork and getting adequate sleep during their growing years," says Cook. "Caffeine also increases calcium excretion which teens typically don't consume enough of and is vital for proper bone growth and development." Is there a limit to the amount of caffeine you or your teen should be consuming each day? How much is too much?

Moderation Is Key
Cook recommends people of all ages keep track of the amount of caffeine they're consuming when they feel the need to give their systems a jolt. "Health Canada has reviewed many studies and has re-confirmed that for the average adult, moderate daily caffeine intake at dose levels of 400-450 mg/day is not associated with any adverse effects," says Cook. "Adults and children over 12 years of age shouldn't consume more than 100-200 mg of caffeine every 3-4 hours and not more than 1000 mg in 24 hours."

Tracking Your Caffeine Intake
Most people don't realize how much caffeine they're consuming everyday. You'd be surprised at the caffeine content in unassuming foods and beverages such as your morning coffee, chocolate and pop. Take a look at this list of products and their caffeine content and see if you fall into the recommended caffeine guidelines.

Item / Average Caffeine(mg)

Coffee (8-oz. cup)

Brewed, drip(85)



(1 oz. cup)

Teas (8-oz cup)

Brewed major North American(40)



Iced (8-oz glass)(25)

Pop (12 oz)

Coca-Cola/Diet Coke (45.6)

Pepsi (37.2)


Dark Chocolate (1 oz)(20)

Milk Chocolate (1 oz)(6)

Cocoa Beverage (5 oz)(4)

Chocolate Milk ( 8 oz)(5)

*Source: International Food Information Council Foundation

Cutting Back
If you think you may be taking in too much caffeine, it would be a good idea to cut down your daily intake. But don't do it all at once. Trying to go 'cold turkey' is difficult and could lead to severe headaches, irritability and feeling generally lousy. The best approach is to restrict your caffeine intake gradually over several days. Cook says that people should become more informed about the amounts of caffeine in the food and drinks they consume. If you're looking for ways to cut back your caffeine intake Cook suggests that you try drinking alternative beverages such as water, vegetable juices, green tea or decaffeinated coffee.

Reference Source 38


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