A smiling couple holding matching mugs of coffeeIf you’re a caffeine addict, join the club. Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world. Caffeine is considered a drug because the effects of caffeine can change the way you act and feel. And like other drugs, you can also get addicted to caffeine and have withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it.

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Effects of Caffeine

Caffeine does have some benefits. It wakes up your brain and makes you feel more alert. Caffeine also can boost your energy level and keep you from feeling tired for a while. The effects of caffeine take about 30 to 45 minutes to occur. They last for eight to 10 hours.

The side effects of caffeine at higher doses include restlessness, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. Withdrawal symptoms from high doses of caffeine can include headache and fatigue. Too much caffeine can cause your heart to beat faster. It can increase your blood pressure. Caffeine can also cause you to become dehydrated because caffeine is a diuretic, which means it increases the amount of urine you put out.

Coffee is what comes to mind when most people think “caffeine.” Many items contain caffeine (energy drinks, teas, and some foods) but about 75 percent of the caffeine consumed in America comes from drinking coffee. That’s not a bad thing because drinking coffee has been linked to a lot of benefits recently. These may include a decreased risk for:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Prostate cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Depression

But it is possible to have too much of a good thing. Most of the benefits of drinking coffee come from ingredients in the bean other than caffeine. When it comes to the caffeine itself, there is a limit to how much is beneficial.

Amounts of Caffeine in Food and Drinks

Coffee may be the most common source of caffeine, but there are a lot of other sources. Cup for cup, tea has about half as much caffeine as coffee. Other sources include colas, energy drinks, over-the-counter medicines, chocolate, gum, and some snack foods.

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