What is one of the most common drugs in the world that stimulates the central nervous system, which can make you feel more alert? Yes, you’re right… caffeine! In moderate amounts it can boost your concentration and memory, and coffee in particular may help decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers. In excessive doses however, caffeine may contribute to insomnia, anxiety, a fast heart rate and restlessness. Suddenly stopping caffeine intake may trigger migraines and irritability in some people.
Listed below are some lesser-known facts about caffeine that may offer insight into your caffeine intake….
DECAF ISN’T THE SAME AS CAFFEINE FREE
Bruce Goldberger, Ph.D. and director of the William R. Maples Center for Forensic Medicine said, “If someone drinks 5 to 10 cups of decaffeinated coffee, the dose of caffeine could easily reach the level present in a cup or two of caffeinated coffee.” This could be an issue for people with kidney disease or anxiety disorders.
A Journal of Analytical Toxicology report found that out of 9 different decaffeinated coffees, all but one contained caffeine. The dose for a brewed cup ranged from 8.6 mg to 13.9 mg. In comparison, a 12-ounce can of coke contains between 30 and 35 mg.
DARK ROAST COFFEES ACTUALLY HAVE LESS CAFFEINE THAN LIGHTER ROASTS
While a rich, strong flavor might seem to mean a boost of caffeine, light roasts actually pack more punch. The process of roasting burns off caffeine.
THE CAFFEINE IN COFFEE VARIES
A recent report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest says that brands vary widely when it comes to caffeine strength. McDonalds has 9.1 mg per fluid ounce while Starbucks has double the caffeine at a full 20.6 milligrams.
CAFFEINE DOES NOT AFFECT EVERYONE THE SAME WAY
According to a recent article in New York magazine, women generally metabolize caffeine faster than men. Smokers process it twice as quickly as nonsmokers do. Women who take birth-control pills metabolize it at about one-third the rate that women not on the Pill do.
CAFFEINE IS PRESENT IN MORE THAN JUST DRINKS
While an FDA report says that more than 98% of our caffeine intakes comes from beverages, certain foods like chocolate also contain it (though not a lot: a one-ounce milk chocolate bar has only about 5 mg of caffeine). Some medications can contain caffeine. The Cleveland Clinic reports that combining a pain reliever with caffeine can make it 40% more effective, and can also help the body absorb the medication more quickly.
WHAT COUNTRY CONSUMES THE MOST CAFFEINE?
Finland wins the prize for the country with the highest caffeine consumption, with the average adult taking in 400 mg each day. According to the FDA, Americans consume an average individual intake of 200 mg per day. That translates to Americans drinking about 2 five-ounce cups of coffee, or about 4 sodas daily.