The Truth about Caffeine Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 19 March 2017

The Truth about Caffeine

1, 3, 7 – tri-methyl-xanthine – Are you wondering what this is? It is that compound which makes our mornings so much better – Caffeine.

Caffeine which is predominantly found in beverages like coffee, tea and some soft drinks is also found in traces in many leaves, seeds, and fruits giving food a special flavor. Let us now explore the truth about what caffeine does to our body. Caffeine, as we’ve all experienced, mildly stimulates the nervous and cardiovascular systems resulting in increased concentration and decreased fatigue. Its mechanism of action is antagonistic at adenosine receptors causing increased energy metabolism throughout the brain. It also affects neurons resulting in the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases motor activity, blood pressure and has effects on sleep, mood and attention.

Coffee and tea are the major sources of caffeine in our daily intake (about 20% in adults), soft drinks contributing about 5% and chocolate about 1.5%.Less than 300 mg per day of caffeine which counts up to 3-4 cups of roast and ground coffee or 5 cups of instant coffee or 5 cups of tea or 6 servings of soft drinks or 10 tablets of some painkillers is not harmful.

Broaching into the flip side of caffeine, it

  • Contains anti oxidants, chlorogenic acid and melanoidins which prevent oxidation, a process that leads to aging.
  • Releases dopamine which reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes in women, as found by US Nurses Health Study.
  • Protects liver against alcoholic cirrhosis.
  • Increases urine volume, thereby inhibiting kidney stones formed by the crystallization of calcium oxalate.
  • Reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by preventing the amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangle formation

On the flop side of drinking coffee/caffeine, it

  • Contains methylglycoxal (500-1000 microgram/cup) which is a mutagen (Kasai et al. ‘82) and a carcinogen (Nagao et al. ‘86). Chlorogenic acid in coffee can be mutagenic in high concentrations.
  •  Earlier research suggested that caffeine could possibly cause colon, bladder, breast or ovarian cancer, but no convincing evidence exists and is approved by FDA as safe.
  • Increases LDL-cholesterol levels, as it contains cafestol and kahweol, as shown by earlier reports although recent research has proved no risk of any heart disease.
  • Reduces Caffeine metabolism to one third its rate in pregnant women, causing caffeine to accumulate. Since it can cross the placenta, it reaches the foetus and it does not contain enzymes to metabolize this compound. It is observed that pregnant women with high intake of caffeine during pregnancy give birth to infants with low birth weight. Therefore it is advisable for pregnant women and women planning to get pregnant to reduce caffeine intake.
  • Causes difficulty in falling asleep, and to be awakened by noise easily when consumed before going to bed.
  • Causes osteoporosis in women who consume less calcium as it increases extra calcium excretion in urine.
  • Affects the blood vessel tone and also can cause disturbance in heartbeat.
  • Caffeine is mildly addictive and the withdrawal symptoms include headache and irritability.

Thus, it can be concluded that caffeine in moderation is not dangerous to our well being.

Works Cited

Diet and Health: Implications for Reducing Chronic Disease Risk (1989)
Commission on Life Sciences (CLS) (page 465 – 570), Washington, D.C. National Academy Press, 1989

Eat for Life: The Food and Nutrition Board’s Guide to Reducing Your Risk of Chronic Disease (1992)                                                                                                                                                              Woteki, Catherine E, Ph.D., R.D. Thomas, Paul R, Ed.D, R.D. Institute of Medicine (IOM)                                                                                                   (page 127 – 128)

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