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Caffeine is a drug stimulant found in coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, dietary supplements and certain foods. Though caffeine may pose some benefits, such as mental sharpness and increased energy, it can also pose dangerous risks. People respond differently to caffeine, so risk for such dangers varies. Excessive caffeine consumption heightens a person’s risk for harmful effects.
Reduced Bone Strength
Excessive caffeine intake may cause the body to rid itself of calcium–a nutrient vital in supporting bone strength. People at risk for osteoporosis, a condition characterized by brittle bones, may exhibit higher risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures if they consume caffeine regularly. According to research published in the Journal of Bones and Mineral Research in Dec. 2009, elderly women are at highest risk for caffeine-related bone problems. Elderly women who lack calcium in their diet and consume caffeine frequently exhibit greater instances of osteoporosis and bone fractures than women deficient in calcium who do not consume caffeine.
Increased Blood Pressure
Increased blood pressure often occurs when people have blockage in their arteries, adhere to diets high in saturated fats, exercise too little or are genetically predisposed to high blood pressure. Caffeine intake can also trigger blood pressure spikes. According to Mayo Clinic hypertension specialist, Sheldon G. Sheps, M.D., the amount of caffeine found in two to three cups of coffee can raise a person’s systolic pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) 3 to 14 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and diastolic pressure (the bottom number) 4 to 13 mm Hg. Such increases prove particularly dangerous for people with high blood pressure or heart-related diseases. In general, people who consume caffeine regularly or in excessive amounts may exhibit higher blood pressure than people who do not. Caffeine found in energy drinks and dietary supplements is often accompanied by additional stimulants, such as the herbs guarana and ginseng. These herbs exacerbate blood pressure risks.
Caffeine may lead to physical dependence. In an interview with U.S. News and World Report, professor Roland Griffiths, of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine explained that though people are hesitant to consider caffeine addiction a drug addiction, the basic mechanisms by which people become dependent upon caffeine are similar to classic drug addiction. As with any addiction, withdrawal symptoms arise when those addicted to caffeine reduce or eliminate caffeine from their lifestyle. People who routinely drink coffee in the morning may experience withdrawal symptoms if their coffee is delayed or missed. Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal include headache, lethargy, foggy thinking, depressed or irritable mood and even nausea or vomiting. Excessive or frequent caffeine intake pose greatest risk for addiction.
Excessive caffeine intake can disturb a person’s moods and emotional health. According to research published in the journal Drug Alcohol Dependency in September 2008, nervousness, restlessness and anxiety are common consequences of caffeine toxicity. People may have difficulty sitting still and may develop heightened paranoia, jealousy and other worrisome emotions. Once the stimulant effects of caffeine wear off, the post-caffeine “crash,” or drop in mood and energy, may pose added emotional side effects. People with depression, anxiety and other psychological disorders may hold higher risk for adverse emotional effects.
Excessive caffeine consumption may cause insomnia, which is a common sleep disorder characterized by difficulty falling to sleep, remaining asleep or having nonrefreshing sleep for at least four consecutive weeks. According to the National Sleep Foundation, seven out of 10 people who exhibit the highest caffeine intake have insomnia. The more caffeine a person consumes, the more likely he is to develop insomnia. Insomnia causes daytime sleepiness and often leads to further caffeine consumption, as a person struggles with daytime wakefulness. Caffeine-induced insomnia may also cause mental fogginess and reduced cognitive abilities. If left untreated, insomnia may increase a person’s risk for weight gain, obesity, mood swings, dependency on sleeping pills, reduced immune system function and automobile accidents.
Caffeine toxicity also affects a person’s physical well-being. According to the Mayo Clinic, excessive caffeine drinkers may develop nausea and additional digestive symptoms. Caffeine in any amount is known to increase a person’s heart rate and blood pressure; over-consumption of caffeine may have dramatic negative effects. People with heart-related health conditions, such as hypertension, or high blood pressure, may have increased risk for heart attack. Heart palpitations and arrhythmias, which are irregular heartbeats, have also been reported. Muscle tremors, extreme shakiness and headaches may also occur. When shakiness is severe or coupled with intense irritability, risk for accidents and injuries increase.
If those aren’t enough reasons, I don’t know what is!? Challenge yourself. I know this will be hard for some of you but you have nothing to lose by trying it for 90 days….only insight and health to gain. Start today, if you must have coffee, go buy some decaf. Get ready, here we go!! 🙂