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The potential health benefits and side effects of caffeine 2014

What is caffeine?

Caffeine, a alkaloid found in numerous plant species, acts as a pesticide to paralyzes and kills certain insects. [1] Caffeine is
a bitter, white crystalline xanthine alkaloid and it is a stimulant. Caffeine can be found in coffee seeds, tea bush leaves, and
some other foods and drinks.  Yerba maté, guarana berries, guayusa, and yaupon holly also contain caffeine. [Wikipedia]

Caffeine has a formula of C8H10N4O2. Its melting point is 460.4°F (238°C), and its molar mass is 194.19 g/mol. Caffeine is
considered as a diuretic, methylxanthine and central nervous system (CNS) stimulant. A diuretic is any substance that
promotes the production of urine.Methylxanthines are compounds that act as cardiac stimulants, diuretics, and smooth
muscle relaxants. Examples of methylxanthines include but not limited to aminophylline and theophylline. CNS stimulants may
be used to reduce tiredness and increase alertness, competitiveness, and aggression. [Wikipedia, C1] Because of its unique
properties, it has multiple health benefits, on the other hand, it also has multiple unwanted side effects.

Potential Health Benefits of Caffeine

Pain Relief
A small study recently has suggested a couple cups of coffee before a tough workout may lower the chances of sore muscle
later on! In theory, caffeine may limit muscle pain by blocking the activity of adenosine. Adenosine is released as part of the
inflammatory response to injury and can activate pain receptors in body cells. [B1] Thus, caffeine may benefit certain people
suffered from pain.

Caffeine is known as a stimulant. It may help temporarily warding off drowsiness and restoring alertness. Thus, a proper use
of caffeine may benefit certain students and certain people who are at alert stage for a period of time. Further, a team of
Swedish and Danish researchers found that people who drank three to five cups of coffee daily were 65 percent less likely to
develop dementia, compared with those who drank two cups or less. People who drank more than five cups a day also were
at reduced risk of dementia. [B3] Thus, intake of caffeine may benefit certain people at risk of dementia.

Caffeine Side Effects
Caffeine Side Effects include insomnia, nervousness and gastrointestinal upset. Dr. Roland Griffiths from Johns Hopkins
School of Medicine pointed out that caffeine as low as 10 milligrams can cause behavioral effects in sensitive individuals.
Moderate levels of caffeine can increase heart rate, blood pressure, agitation and anxiety in some individuals. A can of Coca-
Cola and some popular espresso drinks can deliver as much as 31 milligrams of caffeine. [1]

Withdrawal Symptoms from Caffeine
Withdrawal Symptoms from caffeine include headache, fatigue, anxiety, irritability, depression and difficulty concentrating.

Who should avoid caffeine?
While, Dr. Bruce Goldberger from University of Florida found that some decaffeinated coffee sold in coffee shops may still
contain caffeine. People with high blood pressure, kidney disease or anxiety disorders should avoid drinking coffee. [1]

In a study, nine female college students who took a caffeine supplement before being subjected to eccentric stimulation
caused delayed muscle pain. Delayed muscle pain would occur one or two days after one does some exercise to such a
degree that it triggers so called eccentric contraction of the muscles.  [2] While, a recent research of 1000 pregnant
Californian women shows that consumption by pregnant women can significantly increase the risk of miscarriage. Those
women who consumed 200 milligrams of caffeine or more a day were about twice as likely to miscarry. To avoid the side
effects of caffeine, one should switch to decaffeinated coffee and other decaffeinated beverages. [B2]

By the way, carbonation is often thought to decrease the amount of oxygen that can be carried in the blood. It may not be a
good idea to drink carbonated beverages before marathon or other exercise! [B4]

[1] Caffeine, Wikipedia, October, 2006. Study: Decaf coffee has some caffeine Associated Press, October 11, 2006. [2] Ben
Wasserman Caffeine may ease post-exercise pain - foodconsumer.org Jan 11, 2007 [B1] Caffeine may lessen exercisers'
muscle pain Reuters Health Apr 8, 2009 [B2] Caffeine link to miscarriage risk The Sydney Morning Herald January 22, 2008
[B3] Coffee: What kills you one week, cures you the next, jacksonville.com Apr. 12, 2009 [B4] Coke or Gatorade? Boston
Marathon Runners Debate Drinks Bostonist.com  April 11, 2009  Reference for withdrawal symptoms and a part of the side
effects: webmd.com [C1] L Avois, et al, Central nervous system stimulants and sport practice, Br J Sports Med. Jul 2006; 40
(Suppl 1): i16–i20.
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