Facts to Know About Caffeine

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Facts about caffeine

Facts to Know About Caffeine

There’s a lot of misinformation about caffeine floating around, so it can be difficult to sort out the facts from the fiction. Because caffeine is such a popular substance, it has been studied extensively. Here are some of the scientific facts we know about caffeine today.

Caffeine is not actually addictive
Scientists agree that the effects of caffeine withdrawal lead to the conclusion that the body can at most have a mild caffeine dependency, but not a true addiction. Most withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and drowsiness can be avoided by tapering off caffeine consumption rather than going “cold turkey.”

Moderate caffeine consumption is ideal
What is moderate caffeine consumption? Most sources agree that it’s approximately 300 milligrams per day. Here’s a chart outlining the range of caffeine that can be found in common caffeinated drinks and foods.

Caffeine chart

Source: IFIC Foundation, 1998; Knight, et al., 2004; Mayo Clinic, 2005 via FoodInsight.org

Caffeine enhances physical performance
Studies have shown that consuming caffeine before exercise can significantly increase muscle endurance and improve performance times for athletes. These effects have been seen in professional, recreational and untrained athletes alike.

Caffeine increases alertness levels and attention span
Even in well-rested people, caffeine has a positive effect on alertness, cognitive function and mood, even at relatively low levels of consumption. Even better, one study has shown that consumption of at least three cups of coffee per day is associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline in women as they age.

On the whole, caffeine seems to be mostly beneficial
If you’d like to read a comprehensive report on the pros and cons of caffeine for people with various health situations, check out Caffeine & Health: Clarifying the Controversies [PDF] from the International Food Information Council Foundation. It provides a thorough examination of recent caffeine-related research and can give you the scientific facts you need to back up your advice to your clients about caffeine consumption.