A Closer Look at Caffeine

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Caffeine (scientifically known as 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine) is a mental stimulate that essentially tricks your brain. In your brain, you have adenosine receptors. When adenosine comes into contact with these adenosine receptors, you feel tired and lethargic. Caffeine works by blocking the signals, thus making your feel more awake and alert. It is possible to become tolerant to caffeine to an extent. Certain adenosine receptors become desensitized to caffeine’s effects, which explains why its daily consumers often have to ingest larger amounts before feeling the affects.

In its purest state, caffeine is a bitter, white substance. A lethal dose of pure caffeine for an adult would be around 13 grams, or one tablespoon or pure caffeine. This is a pretty scary number until you consider that 13 grams of caffeine is equivalent to around 100 twelve-ounce cups of coffee . It should also be noted that long before you reached this lethal dosage, caffeine intoxication would set in (beginning as early as the 250 mg mark). Common symptoms of caffeine intoxication include increased nerves, cold extremities, insomnia (obviously), and, in some cases, hallucinations.

Caffeine is available almost everywhere you look, in forms of coffee, tea, energy drinks, chocolate, pills, etc. The average American consumes around 300 grams of caffeine daily, making caffeine the most popular drug in the US. Although caffeine may have the same side effects as other substances (a built up tolerance and withdrawal), it is separated by its lack of addictiveness, and thus is not considered a threat to public health. Sure, dropping your daily habit of a couple of cups might leave you feeling cranky and sluggish, but feelings of compulsion of use are unrecorded in studies, making caffeine non-addictive.

Caffeine is associated with amazing benefits including increased cognitive ability, headache relief, and a decreased risk for type II diabetes. Still, it might be a good idea to take a break. As mentioned earlier, a caffeine tolerance can be built up, which lessen its benefits. A decreased intake of caffeine maximizes these benefits  and allows the consumer to be in control of when he gets the most out of his cup of joe.

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