How Safe is Caffeine?
Millions of people in the world rely on caffeine to wake up, get a surge of energy and get to work each day. It is one of the most loved (and sometimes controversial) ingredient in health circles. Here, we discuss the usage of caffeine and how good it is for the human body and what are safe dosages to use it as an energizer
How Does Caffeine Work?
Let’s first understand what is it that gives people a kick when consuming caffeine? The body absorbs caffeine in different forms. It is broken down into different compounds that can affect different organs. The most significant effect is on the brain. Caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain. Caffeine kind of jump starts the brain, making one feel fresh and less lethargic. It also may increase the adrenalin levels increasing brain activity.
Coming to the safety of caffeine, naturally, it works in moderation. In fact, it has several health benefits, depending on usage for different body types.
- Protection against heart disease and Type 2 diabetes – Beneficial compounds in coffee are known to protect from Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, even though it can increase blood pressure.
- Enhance sporting ability – Caffeine is supposed to give an athlete or a fitness enthusiast that extra nudge, as it increases the use of fat as fuel. This is beneficial because it helps the glucose stored in muscles last longer, potentially delaying the time it takes your muscles to reach exhaustion, leading to extra minutes or hours in the gym.
- Boosts metabolism – Since caffeine has the ability to stimulate the central nervous system, scientists believe that it spurs metabolism and assists in fat burning as well.
- Improves brain function, improving mood – Caffeine blocks the brain signaling molecule adenosine, which in turn, increases other signaling molecules such as dopamine and norepinephrine. Stimulating brain functionality means mood upliftment.
- Liver protection – Caffeine is known to reduce the risk of liver damage (cirrhosis) by a large margin.
- Promotes longevity – Caffeine is also attributed with the gift of a long life, if taken in moderate measure.
- Skin protection – Women are especially known to see an effect of caffeine on skin.
- Prevents gout- Experts believe that a regular intake of four cups of coffee per day may reduce the risk of developing gout by 40% in men and 57% in women.
- Supports the health of the gut – It is said that caffeine increases the amount and activity of beneficial gut bacteria, thus supporting gut health in general.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) mark a daily intake of 400 mg of caffeine as safe. This is about 2–4 cups of coffee per day. Single doses of 500 mg caffeine have known to be fatal, so it is recommended to limit the amount of caffeine you consume to 200 mg per dose. This is the same for pregnant women.
The insights in this blog are based on secondary research. Do consult a physician before deciding on your caffeine intake as it may have a different impact on different body types