National Caffeine Awareness Month

Blackboard with the chemical formula of Caffeine

 

We’ve all had days where it’s harder than usual to wake up. Perhaps it happens more often than not, but in either case, fighting fatigue is tough to do. And it can definitely weigh down on one’s ability to focus, especially in the workplace. It’s no wonder why 85% of the US population relies on caffeine to start their day. Tea and coffee are still the most popular pick-me-ups choices but nowadays there are a variety of different options available such as chews, bars, gums, powder, even trans-dermal bracelets. March is National Caffeine Awareness Month and with respect to this topic, we would like to dive a little deeper into this obsession.

There has always been much debate about how caffeine truly affects the body. We recently shared a link where new studies show that caffeine does not appear to cause heart palpitations, heart fluttering and other out of sync heartbeat patterns. In fact, large studies have shown that habitual coffee drinkers have lowered rates of coronary artery disease and lower levels of plaque buildup in the arteries. Caffeine may actually help keep your blood vessels healthier too! But even with all that good news, keep in mind that there are potential adverse reactions from too much caffeine. So, how much is too much? 400mg is commonly noted as a safe intake level for adults. That would be 4-5 cups of fresh brew coffee, 6-7 cups of black tea or 4.5 cans of Red Bull. Those totals may seem excessive to some, but remember, everyone’s tolerance is different. And, depending on intake, it is possible to wind up with some undesirable extras: side effects. A few of the most commonly reported side effects from caffeine use are jitteriness, mild anxiety and insomnia.

Just like everyone’s tolerance level for caffeine varies, you may also react differently from one caffeine source to another. For instance, green tea is likelier to provide a mellow boost versus an espresso. Yerba Mate, a traditional South American brewed beverage, has been noted to have an enlightening and energizing effect without any jitteriness or anxiousness.

Clearly, not all caffeine is created equal.  It’s recommended to get your caffeine fix is from natural sources such as coffee, tea, Yerba Mate, chocolate, etc. There are more natural sources out there, around about 60 known plants types, but many aren’t well recognized in the US. And even though that may sound like a lot, it doesn’t compare to the hundreds, if not thousands, of synthetic variations. To put it plainly, synthetic caffeine is made in a laboratory and is typically processed with chemicals in order to get to the finished product. Synthetic caffeine absorbs into your body faster than plant based caffeine, which leads to a quicker spike and of course a quicker crash. Sodas and energy drinks use synthetic caffeine. If you are looking to avoid synthetic caffeine all you have to do is read the ingredients. The word “caffeine” indicates the synthetic variation whereas the botanical name, such as green tea, indicates that the source is natural.