9 Myths About Caffeine

Published: 19th July 2010
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Every day millions of Americans consume caffeine in some for or another. It's been estimated that over 90% of us get a dose of caffeine every day in this country. Sometimes, it seems as if caffeine is hard to avoid. Caffeine is naturally found in chocolate, coffee and tea and is also added to almost all carbonated soft drinks. Oh, by the way, those miracle energy drinks? Caffeine.

Not too surprisingly, some myths and misconceptions about caffeine have worked their way into mainstream knowledge about caffeine. People just accept as fact many ideas which turn out to be false.

Here's just a few of them:

Myth: If you're pregnant you should avoid caffeine. It's perfectly safe for pregnant women to continue getting their caffeine in moderation. Don't overdo it and drinking your morning coffee or tea is perfectly healthy for both you and your baby.

Myth: Drinking coffee or tea leads to caffeine addiction. This is probably the most common misconception about caffeine. You may look forward to the morning joe and you may really like the taste but you just don't get addicted. Addiction means that if you tried to stop you would have severe symptoms of withdrawal. There is no evidence that caffeine use has any of the physical symptoms that are associated with drug abuse.

Myth: Caffeine is especially bad for children. Not so. Children have about the same ability to metabolize caffeine as adults. Kids usually get their caffeine from sodas and there's no evidence that moderate intake has any detectable effects on activity levels or crankiness.

Myth: If you're worried about your heart, stay away from caffeine. Scientists have determined that the average dose of caffeine has no correlation to an increase in the risk of heart disease, blood pressure or cholesterol levels.

Myth: Caffeine is linked to problems with bones, joints and increase in the incidence of osteoporosis. The known risk factors associated with osteoporosis are not enough vitamin D, insufficient calcium, smoking, menopause and not enough exercise. Caffeine has no known effect on bone density or the incidence of osteoporosis.

Myth: Caffeine makes you feel stressed out. Caffeine doesn't any direct effect on feelings of anxiety or nervousnous. Because caffeine is a stimulant, we might feel some of the symptoms that mimic stress even though we're not actually feeling stressful emotions. While caffeine doesn't actually produce stress caffeine does, however, block the effect of adenosine which is a natural inhibitor of nervous activity. This can hamper your bodys ability to deal with stressful situations.

Myth: Stay away from caffeine to stay hydrated. Caffeine does not cause dehydration. While caffeine is a mild diuretic the amount of water consumed with caffeine compensates for the diuretic effect. Not as good as drinking pure water, drinking coffee or tea will help you stay hydrated.

Myth: Better quality coffee means more caffeine. Actually, the opposite is true. The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee depends on several factors. Where the coffee was grown, how it was ground, how it was prepared and how big the serving size are what determines how much caffeine you're getting. The more expensive beans generally have less caffeine than the cheaper varieties.

Myth: Drink decaffeinated coffee and you'll completely avoid caffeine. In the United States coffee has to be 97% caffeine free to be called decaffeinated. However, regular coffee is already 95% caffeine free. Most of the caffeine in coffee is removed by decaffeination but there is still a tiny amount remaining. The down side of drinking decaf is that the process usually used to remove the caffeine also removes many other chemicals that are essential to the taste of coffee. This explains why it's so hard to find a good tasting cup of decaf.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies caffeine among the popular food and drinks that are recognized to be safe. As with anything else, moderation is always the key. In fact, drinking two to four cups of coffee a day won't do you any harm and can be a help for the body because of caffeines natural stimulus effect. So, don't overdo it and you can still wake up and smell the coffee.

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