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The caffeine 'detox': How and why to cut back on your daily fix

Are you one of those people who can't get your day started without a cup of coffee?

Regardless of the form, an estimated 90% of the US population regularly consume caffeine, a stimulant and ingredient that has been enjoyed for thousands of years. It's not hard to do so, as caffeine is ubiquitous in our food supply, found in beverages, chocolate and pain medications, to name a few.

"Caffeine is the most commonly consumed psychoactive drug," said Mary M. Sweeney, an instructor who researches caffeine's effects on individuals in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Although we know it can be counted on for a pick-me-up, more and more research is revealing other upsides of caffeine, including improved memory, enhanced athletic performance, beneficial effects on liver health and possible protection against Parkinson's disease. 

A recent systematic review involving nearly 400 studies looked at adverse health effects associated with caffeine consumption, including general toxicity, cardiovascular effects, effects on bone and calcium, behavioral effects, and reproductive and developmental effects. The research evaluated caffeine intake from any source and was supported with grants from the American Beverage Association and the National Coffee Association, though neither association participated in any aspect of the review.

The researchers concluded that healthy adults can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily, the amount in about four 8-ounce cups of coffee. Though caffeine recommendations are based on a specific amount of milligrams, the effects can vary from person to person, and different individuals may be able to tolerate different amounts.

An individual's tolerance to caffeine may depend on body size and how they metabolize caffeine, which can be related to genetic differences. Lifestyle factors also affect caffeine metabolism, including pregnancy and the use of oral contraceptives, both of which slow caffeine metabolism in the body, according to Sweeney.

Other research points to the fact that caffeine may become indirectly harmful if its consumption provokes other unhealthy habits, such as when coffee drinking promotes doughnut eating or cigarette smoking, or when energy drink consumption promotes alcohol intake. Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal have been observed after discontinuing doses as low as 100 milligrams per day, though in general, the higher your daily dose of caffeine, the greater your severity of withdrawal symptoms, she said.

Source: CNN


Päivitetty/Updated: 20.10.2017

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