Caffeine is one of the most abundant drugs that people commonly use on a daily basis. In North America, 80-90% of adults use caffeine on a daily basis.
Many people don’t even think of it as a drug—they don’t consider the results and chemical process of excessive caffeine ingestion. How safe is caffeine and how similar is it to other drugs?
We took a look at what researchers and doctors are saying to help determine safe daily doses of caffeine.
Caffeine Is Addictive
The cup of coffee you have everyday—or maybe several times a day—is actually addictive. Like many drugs that alter mood an behavior, caffeine is actually an addictive stimulant. A recent article in the academic journal Psychopharmacology studied the history of caffeine addiction and cataloged common caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
The article concluded that, despite over 170 years of extensive medical reports of caffeine withdrawal, scientists are only currently beginning experiments to study the addictive nature of caffeine. The work of these researchers resulted in the creation of a new mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)—caffeine withdrawal syndrome.
Coffee Is Healthy In Moderation
Most people consider caffeine a safe way to get a quick energy boost. Some health advocates even talk about the health benefits of caffeine. Studies exist that prove moderate coffee consumption does help lower heart disease risk. A 2007 study concluded that this phenomenon among coffee drinkers “might be due to antioxidants found in coffee.”
The same study, however, demonstrated that many of the effects of coffee and caffeine are not understood. Researchers also discussed the harmful components of boiled coffee, which contains cholesterol-raising diterpenes that might actually cause coronary heart disease.
Researchers are busy conducting more research on the long-term results of caffeine consumption. Currently, it appears that moderate caffeine consumption—even regularly—is generally safe. There are cases of caffeine overdose and death, however, the amount of caffeine required for death to occur is very high.
Caffeine Safe Limits
Doctors define “safe” caffeine consumption as less that 400mg per day. Recent research concludes that this level of “moderate” consumption “poses no significant health risks to most consumers.
Certain circumstances make that 400mg per day figure unsafe. The same study does not recommend caffeine consumption at all during pregnancy or for children. This is due to caffeine’s ability to slightly increase blood pressure.
When consumed in safe quantities, Caffeine is a safe drug. It is addictive—you might become dependent on it and it does briefly raise cholesterol levels and blood pressure but there are some benefits.
Caffeine can boost your metabolic rate and help you burn more calories. For many people it is an important part of a weight loss or weight management plan.
Additionally, coffee contains antioxidants that can help fight off disease. If you do consume caffeine be sure to stick to the recommended safe daily dose of 400mg.
-  http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-004-2000-x#page-1
-  http://journals.lww.com/co-lipidology/Abstract/2007/02000/Coffee,_caffeine,_and_coronary_heart_disease.5.aspx
-  http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/8/2047.full
-  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0379073803004171
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