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Caffeine Decoded

Half of Americans aged 18-24 drink coffee everyday according to the National Coffee Association. Most college students will admit to being dependent on caffeine and can’t begin their day until they have that first cup of coffee.

Even if you’re not an avid coffee drinker, chances are you consume caffeine in the form of coffee, soda, tea, food or energy drinks. The FDA claims that 80 percent of Americans are consuming coffee every day with an average of 200 milligrams daily. This is below the recommended daily allowance (RDA) the FDA has suggested, which is 400 milligrams for adults.

With so many options for caffeine, it can be hard to decipher which one is the best or most effective. While some foods like dark chocolate have traces of caffeine, energy drinks have up to 250 milligrams in one serving.

The problem with energy drinks is all of the added sugars and other stimulating ingredients they contain. These other ingredients, which have not been thoroughly researched, can cause heart complications. One ingredient commonly found in energy drinks is carnitine, an amino acid that is often found in meat and dairy products. Carnitine should only be supplemented when there is a deficiency, which is extremely rare in a diet including meat and dairy. Excessive intake of carnitine through energy drinks has been linked to seizures, nausea and dizziness.

Some people may experience heart complications with consuming caffeine due to anxiety or already existing heart problems. Studies have shown that caffeine does temporarily lead to an increased heart rate, which is what causes the jitters felt after drinking coffee. Luckily for coffee addicts, the research has not shown permanent heart damage as a result of drinking coffee. Anything under the FDA’s suggested 400 milligrams is considered to be safe.

This does not mean that drinking coffee frequently throughout the day goes without consequence. Coffee is a diuretic which causes it to dehydrate you. Many dietitians recommend drinking as many ounces of water as the amount of coffee you consume along with the daily recommended water intake, which is 3.7 liters per day for males and 2.7 liters per day for females according to the National Health Institute.

An excessive amount of daily caffeine intake can lead to a calcium deficiency. Calcium is present in many functions and processes which keep your body working and your bones strong. The Cleveland Clinic has found evidence correlating high caffeine consumption to a lower bone density in women. Good sources of calcium include yogurt, almonds and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage and celery.

If your go-to caffeine source is tea, you will be consuming less caffeine than your coffee-loving counterparts. However, herbal teas have more health benefits overall since they are packed with antioxidants. Unlike coffee, tea does not dehydrate you and it is not as great of a stimulant for the heart.

Consuming moderate amounts of coffee is just fine as long as you are keeping yourself hydrated and taking in enough calcium. When picking your source of caffeine, it is necessary to consider the contents of the beverage as a whole by staying away from drinks that are high in sugar and food additives.


About the author

Hailey Kenyon

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