Nutrition Articles

The Buzz on Caffeine

Health Benefits and Risks of Caffeine Consumption

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4 Health Risks of Caffeine Consumption
  • Complex Tasks: Caffeine can worsen performance on complicated tasks, and with caffeine usage over time, the mental boost one gains from caffeine is reduced.
     
  • Fertility and Pregnancy: The March of Dimes recommends that women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant consume no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per day due to possible adverse effects on fertility, miscarriage and fetal growth.
     
  • Fibrocystic Breast Disease: While it does not cause this condition, caffeine can aggravate the symptoms in some women who already have the disease. 
     
  • Sleep: Consumed later in the day, caffeine can interfere with the onset of sleep and especially rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Most people report difficulty falling asleep when consuming caffeine within six hours before going to bed. Your sensitivity will vary based on how quickly your body metabolizes caffeine, the amount you ingest and your regular consumption amount.  
6 Things Caffeine Has NO Affect On
  • Cancer: Current research does not show a link between caffeine intake and cancer in humans. 
     
  • Dehydration: Caffeine is a mild diuretic that can increase the frequency of urination. However, the fluid you consume in the caffeinated beverage tends to offset the fluid loss when you urinate. Studies have shown that caffeinated beverages do not cause dehydration. 
     
  • Heart Disease or High Blood Pressure: Caffeine has not been shown to increase the risk for cardiac arrhythmias, coronary heart disease, stroke or the development of chronic hypertension. It has not been shown to increase cholesterol levels or alter lipid profile.
     
  • Osteoporosis: Caffeine has not been shown to be a risk factor in the development of osteoporosis, especially in adults with adequate daily calcium intake. It does not alter calcium absorption or excretion significantly.
     
  • Reduced Intoxication: When intoxicated from too much alcohol intake, caffeine does not "sober you up" faster.
     
  • Weight Loss: Because caffeine is a stimulant, it does speed up metabolism, but the effect is only minimal and very short term. Clinical research does not show a significant weight loss with the use of caffeine-containing supplements. Therefore, save your money and leave those supplements (which can contain up to 300 mg of caffeine per dose) on the store shelf.   Continued ›
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About The Author

Becky Hand Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.

Member Comments

  • YELLOWDUCK60 there's a caffeine chart on pg 3 that shows for tea as well as other drinks :) - 9/16/2014 11:50:52 AM
  • YELLOWDUCK60
    Hi lots of talk about coffee - nothing really said about a refreshing cup of weak tea. I drink alot of it - its just about hot water with milk- with a hint of tea. I would be interested to know what that caffeine content of that would be.
    I drink coffee infrequently and find purchased coffees too strong for me. - 7/18/2014 5:45:11 PM
  • I love and adore coffee-drink it every day. But every once in a while -I quit coffee to give my body/brain a break from it. .And I find It takes about a month for my brain to re-wire to be able to have my own energy again. For that month I notice it is harder to think as quick /move as I do with the caffeine.But I have learned that I have to quit slowly. One time I tried to quit cold. and looking for an exit at the car wash, I accidentally drove my car off a curb that at one time had been a driveway ( it still sort of looked like one). I realized right there and then, with my car stuck on that curb-that withdrawal from coffee -I need to be careful for the first day or two! I would not have made such a judgement error had I had my morning joe. - 7/18/2014 2:23:43 PM
  • I tried giving up caffeine once. It was the worst dietary change I ever made. I will never do that again, unless some horrible global catastrophy happens, and suddenly humanity runs out of coffee. - 5/3/2014 11:57:20 AM
  • Nicely balanced article. Thanks.
    - 5/3/2014 8:21:56 AM
  • I have Fibrocystic Breast Disease and had to quit caffeine and take Vitamin E as per the doc's request. Big improvement in my health which saved me from surgery.

    The only problem with going caffeine free is when you go out to dinner and ask what they have that is decaffeinated and diet, you will get a plethora of crazy answers from tea to Diet Coke. I started ordering the water with lemon. - 2/17/2014 11:46:51 AM
  • I so agree... My grandmother is a healthy 92 year old, that for as long as I can remember, has always had a cup of coffee each morning with her prayers.
    Her only pain is arthritis.
    :o) - 12/15/2013 9:50:38 AM
  • TAKOFF
    Starting my menopause years, I noticed drinking coffee every morning and at night, then the pepsi and teas in between, was encouraging my menistraul flow to continue. When I stopped all the caffeinated drinks above I did not have one for those months. Caffeine also made me very shaky when taken with something sweet. I only drink one fourth a cup just to taste occasionally now and I am o.k. I guess everything in moderation, as its been said. - 11/21/2013 1:07:54 PM
  • WITTROCKRA
    I was disappointed to see the "health benefit" to help with endurance sports. As a long-distance runner we were told specifically not to take caffeine because it is a short burst of energy and you will crash.

    Also, I feel if you are going to talk about the positives of caffeine, you also need to address products. The chart shows caffeine in soda, coffee, energy drinks and sweets. However, many of those products, especially soda and sweets, not only have caffeine, but high levels of sugar, which is bad. Did you know that drinking one 20 oz. bottle of Mt. Dew is the equivalent of eating 17 teaspoons of sugar. - 11/20/2013 1:34:52 PM
  • Some enlightening perspectives, but I am surpised there was no mention of Cortisol, the fight or flight adrenal. Caffeine stimulates cortisol production. Cortisol among many things, hinders weight loss and interferes with glucose absorbtion. Google it and check it out. - 11/19/2013 4:55:09 PM
  • There was a time when I would have said very quickly that there's no such thing as "too much caffeine." Friends and I joked about how all we drank was filtered water--filtered through ground coffee beans. :-D

    Unfortunately, i've been drinking it for such a long time and at such quantities and variety of strengths that I can drink coffee all day and still be exhausted--I think now that most of the feeling of alertness I have for a short time after drinking coffee is really just the sugar or creamer that I've included.

    I don't have the health effects that some commentors before me have suffered, but I do know that my tolerance for caffeine is much higher than my possible intake. I'm still quite happy to drink coffee (I still love it) but to do so as an alertness aid just doesn't work anymore. And I've never known the buzz some people get off drinking espresso or anything like that. You've got to remember that caffeine is a drug, albeit legal (thank goodness, right?) and will interact with your body in ways you might not expect.

    Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my cup of plain water. - 11/19/2013 2:49:49 PM
  • I have Premature Ventricular Complexes (PVC) - a doctor's way of saying that my heart will skip a beat. It doesn't have any long term affects but is REALLY annoying when it happens because you feel it (whereas generally you don't feel your heart beating). By really limiting my caffeine (one 8 oz Pepsi on Sat and one on Sun and a rare one while out) I have almost eliminated the PVC from happening. In addition, too much caffeine or a big change in caffeine from one day to the next can trigger my migraines, so I just really limit myself. On the other hand, if I have a migraine and it won't go away, sometimes a small amount (4-6 oz of Pepsi) will dull it some. Weird I know, but not uncommon in migrainers. - 11/19/2013 9:05:38 AM
  • I have cut out the caffeine twice...once cold turkey and once gradually. Both worked. These days I avoid most caffeine. I had surgery on my lower esophageal sphincter and caffeine does not work for me anymore. Mostly I go for decaf with an iced tea or chai tea rarely. - 11/19/2013 8:19:54 AM
  • Caffeine, especially coffee can also aggravate GERD or reflux symptoms, which can lead to Vocal Cord Dysfunction. VCD is frightening because the larynx contracts and cuts off your air supply so that you can't exhale as you normally would. It's usually related to damage to the esophagus. Other symptoms include a general scratchiness in the throat, difficulty swallowing, or a compulsion to swallow, and coughing spells not related to a cold or smoking, and an excessive sensitivity to irritants such as smoke and cleaning chemicals. Often, it's misdiagnosed as allergies or asthma, especially if it begins as an adult. Quitting caffeine is one of the things that has greatly reduced my symptoms. - 11/19/2013 7:41:55 AM
  • HILDE123
    I thought the article was useful and was glad see that it was written by a registered dietician. There seemed to be a lot of research behind it. However, I had several episodes a few years ago when I was drinking more caffeine than I am now (I cut way back), when I would get very dizzy, and felt like I was going to faint. One day I did faint and was out for about 10 min. My husband called 911. I was hospitalized for 4 days. They did numerous tests, including an eeg and ekg. They never did find a reason why I passed out. I stopped all caffeine for about 3 years and never had a problem after that. I have gradually added back an occasional coke or 1 cup of regular coffee and have had no more problems. - 11/19/2013 5:56:25 AM

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