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Caffeine: the nervous stimulant

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Caffeine occurs natural in more than 50 plants, including coffee beans, tea leaves, and kola nuts, which are used to flavor soft drinks. It also occurs in cacao pods, which are used to make chocolate products. Caffeine can also be found in most over-the-counter pain relievers. Two pain reliever tablets can contain as much caffeine as two cups of coffee.

According to http://CDC.gov, 90 percent of people in the world consume caffeine daily, in some shape or form, while 80 percent in the United States consume it every day. The average adult daily intake for caffeine is usually about 200mg, or the equivalent of two 5oz. cups of coffee or four sodas. Caffeine reaches peak levels in your blood stream within an hour of consumption, and it stays in your system for about four to six hours.

Here is the average content of beverages most people consume every day:

  • Coffee (5oz.) 50-160mg
  • Hot cocoa (5oz.) 1-8mg
  • Jolt Cola (12oz.) 100mg
  • Mountain Dew (12oz.) 55mg
  • Coke (12oz.) 64mg
  • Pepsi (12oz.) 43mg
  • Milk chocolate (1oz.) 1-15mg

Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant, which helps you feel more awake and alert. However, there are several drawbacks to consuming caffeine. It can:

  • Make you feel jittery and shaky
  • Make it hard to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get a good night's sleep
  • Make your heart beat faster
  • Cause uneven heart rhythm
  • Raise your blood pressure
  • Cause headaches, nervousness, and/or dizziness
  • Make you dehydrated
  • Make you depend on it or need more of it
  • Increase the release of acid in your stomach--causing upset stomach or heartburn
  • Make anxiety and panic attacks worse
  • Make conception more difficult and cause under weight babies

You may be suffering from caffeine withdrawal if you experience severe headaches, muscle aches, temporary feelings of depression, or irritability.

Caffeine should be consumed in moderation. Ask your doctor or medical professional if you have reason to believe your caffeine intake will affect certain aspects of your health.

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