Midterm season is officially upon us…which means that countless undergraduates across the country will be suffering through many sleepless nights and guzzling down many cups of caffeinated beverages, all in pursuit of sleep evasion. But what contains caffeine and how does it affect the body? Keep reading to find out.
Average Amount of Caffeine in Popular Sources
- A stimulant, naturally occurring in coffee, tea, cocoa, and coffee-flavored things. It is an additive in sodas and energy drinks.
- Stim-u-lant (noun): a substance that raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body.
- Mildly addictive. Many people who regularly consume caffeine may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop consuming it. This may also a reason that the makers of soft drinks add caffeine to their products.
- In the US and Canada, per capita caffeine consumption is estimated around 210-238mg/day. In Sweden and Finland, it is more than 400 mg/person/day.
- The liver metabolizes caffeine, but because of its hydrophobic properties, caffeine can pass through all biological membranes.
- Caffeine absorption from typical consumption reaches 99% in humans in about 45 minutes.
- Caffeine, in doses regularly consumed, acts primarily by blocking adenosine A1 and A2A receptors, or the receptors in the brain responsible for regulating sleep state and breath cycles.
- For doses of about 250 mg or less, the half-life of caffeine in the body is 2.5-4.5 hours. There is no difference between the caffeine half-life in young vs. elderly humans, so long as both are fully developed (a.k.a. not children).
Caffeine and The Body
- Health Benefits associated with drinking a few cups of caffeinated coffee per day:
- Reduce risk of Parkinson’s disease
- Reduce risk of Alzheimer’s disease
- Reduce risk of gallstones
- Reduce risk of suicide
- Negative Effects associated with drinking caffeine, especially at high levels:
- Effects calcium levels (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12204390 for more information)
- Effects metabolism (see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7369170 for more information)
- Increases the risk of miscarriages (and possibly birth defects) and inhibits fetal growth. May also make becoming pregnant more difficult.
By Taylor Reiter (Dunster FLP Rep)