Caffeine - Safe or Harmful?

Learn the benefits of caffeine and how to dose properly so as to reduce of the risk of adverse side effects.
Gabriel Rusher
April 20, 2023
Caffeine - Safe or Harmful?

Do you need a pick-me-up to start the day? Chances are you do. According to Mayo Clinic, about 90% of adults consume caffeine on a daily basis, easily placing it as the most commonly used stimulant worldwide. Perhaps you can relate to the promotional slogan, “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.” Hopefully you’re not that dramatic about it, but the point still stands - caffeine is used A LOT. How does caffeine operate within the body? What are the benefits and side effects? What amount is safe? This article will answer those questions!

Benefits. Being a stimulant, caffeine increases the activity of the brain and nervous system. It does this primarily through increased circulation of cortisol and adrenaline within the body. Normally referred to as “stress hormones,” these natural chemicals play an important role in several bodily functions, such as the regulation of metabolism, blood pressure, and blood sugar. In lower doses, caffeine can make you feel energized and focused. 

Potential side effects. In larger doses, caffeine can cause dizziness, headaches, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. It is also possible to develop a tolerance to caffeine, meaning larger and larger doses become required to achieve the same effect. At this stage, a person may experience symptoms of withdrawal, which include muscle pain and fatigue, if they suddenly stop taking it altogether. The best way to break caffeine dependence is to gradually decrease daily intake over time. 

Proper dosage. As is with most things, the dose makes the poison. 400mg of caffeine or less per day is considered safe for the general adult population, although factors such as bodyweight, health, and activity level play a role. 1.35 to 2.7mg of caffeine per pound of body weight is also considered to be safe. It is also important to bear in mind that caffeine is found naturally in tea leaves, cocoa beans, and coffee beans, which are used to make commonly consumed goods. If you regularly consume tea, coffee, or cocoa products, check to see how much caffeine you may already be consuming before supplementing. 

If you rise and shine with little difficulty or fatigue, you most likely do not need to worry about taking caffeine. On the other hand, if your rise has significantly less shine, caffeine may be a much needed boost to start the day. Find a daily dose that you respond well to, doing so in gradual increments. You may find that your day (and your workout) is easier to get through!

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