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Caffeine for your body and mind

 

Last updated 6/7/2007 at Noon



Registered dietician Sue Jackson recently suggested that I do some research about the “energy drinks” so many students are drinking. Sue teaches at Fallbrook High School and recently overheard a freshman boy telling his friends how he went to a party and drank five energy drinks and got “high” on caffeine. It is also known that many teenagers mix the drinks with alcohol for a very interesting feeling.

Nearly 80 percent of all Americans – doctors and journalists included – are hooked on caffeine, this country’s number one addiction. For an estimated five million Americans, anxiety progresses to a condition known as panic disorder. A report in the Archives of General Psychiatry found that caffeine produced significant increases in anxiety, nervousness, fear, nausea, palpitations, restlessness and tremors in patients with agoraphobia and panic disorders. In fact, 71 percent of the patients reported that the behavioral effects of caffeine were similar to those experienced during panic attacks. An extreme end to an innocent beginning can land someone in the hospital.

In terms of a six-ounce cup, black coffee produces 140 milligrams (mg) of caffeine; black tea produces 70 mg, green tea and decaffeinated coffee produces 35 mg of caffeine. The question is… who do you know who drinks just six ounces?

Let’s compare. Rockstar makes the Double Strength 16-ounce Energy Drink, which lists 160 mg of caffeine. Coca-Cola makes the Full Throttle Blue Demon Energy Drink, listing 140 mg of caffeine. Monster Energy, with 2,500 mg of caffeine, lists an assortment of components, including L-Carnitine, glucose (sugar), caffeine, guarana (another stimulant), inositol and more sugar. You can even buy water that has caffeine added to it!

Caffeine is a diuretic and a stimulant. It interferes with sleep, contributes to mood swings (depression, here I come) and fluctuating energy levels (drop-kick your energy out the door), can cause headaches and can make you feel like your brains are bouncing from one end of your skull to another.

When taken during breastfeeding it can make an infant irritable and wakeful. Larger doses of caffeine may interfere with the bioavailability of iron from breast milk and impair the infant’s iron status.

Caffeine may enhance endurance by stimulating fatty acid release, thereby slowing glycogen use and attenuating the perception of fatigue.

What’s the verdict? Keep your caffeine intake down to a reasonable limit. Exercise limits or make better choices, like green tea, which has antioxidant properties.

If you would be interested in knowing more about a specific area or approach in natural health or nutrition, send me an e-mail at [email protected] I am open to your suggestions on topics of interest.

1. This article is for educational purposes only.

2. Your individual health status and any required healthcare treatments can only be properly addressed by a professional healthcare provider. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional of your choice.

L.N. Robins, “Lifetime Prevalence of Specific Psychiatric Disorders in Three Sites,” Archives of General Psychiatry, 1984; 41:949-58.

D.S. Charney, G.R. Heninger, and P.I. Jatlow, “Increased Anxiogenic Effects of Caffeine in Panic Disorders,” Archives of General Psychiatry, March 1985;42(3):233-43.

E.N. Whitney, S.R. Rolfes, “Understanding Nutrition, 9th Edition,” (California: Wadsworth Group, 2002), pp. 483;524

 

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