Caffeine is a vital component of many people’s daily routines. A morning cup of caffeinated coffee provides the boost people need to get out the door and on their way each morning.
The history of caffeine and its use in beverages is mired in mystery and myth, though the U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that the historical origins of caffeinated tea and coffee are relatively recent. The USNLM indicates that coffee did not become widespread in Europe until the 18th and 19th centuries, remaining something of a luxury until somewhat recently. And while England’s love of tea is widely known, caffeinated tea did not become common in Britain until the 18th century.
While it might have taken its time to take root in many cultures across the globe, there’s no denying the prevalence of caffeine in the 21st century. A bitter substance that occurs naturally in more than 60 plants, caffeine can be found in coffee beans; tea leaves; kola nuts, which are used to flavor sodas; and cacao pods, which are vital to the creation of many chocolate products.
Many people get their caffeine from beverages, and the amount of caffeine such people consume may depend on which beverages they choose. For example, the USNLM says that an eight-ounce cup of coffee typically contains anywhere from 95 to 200 milligrams of caffeine. A 12-ounce can of soda is considerably less caffeinated, containing about 35 to 45 milligrams of caffeine on average. The extra boost people get from sodas might be due to sugar, as sodas are notoriously high in sugar.
Caffeine has various effects on the body, some of which are beneficial. For example, the USNLM notes that caffeine is a diuretic, which means it can help the body get rid of extra salt and water by increasing the need to urinate. Caffeine also stimulates the central nervous system, providing that morning boost of energy that so many coffee drinkers rely on every day.
But not all side effects of caffeine consumption are beneficial. Because it increases the release of acid in the stomach, caffeine can sometimes contribute to upset stomach or heartburn. In addition, caffeine can interfere with the absorption of calcium in the body, though the organization American Bone Health notes that such interference may only occur among heavy coffee drinkers who consume upwards of four cups of coffee per day.
The USNLM notes that most people can consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day without suffering any ill effects. But exceeding that amount may contribute to a number of unwanted side effects, including restlessness, insomnia, headaches, dizziness, dehydration, anxiety, and rapid or abnormal hearth rhythm. It’s also important to recognize that some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others, so what’s good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander.
Caffeine plays a vital role in many people’s lives, and understanding its effects can help people make smart decisions regarding their caffeine consumption.