Caffeine is a common component present in a variety of beverages. You can find it in chocolate, energy drinks, soft, tea, and coffee, and more. Among all the beverages, coffee is the most common drink that people from across the world drink. Near about 1.6 billion cups of coffee are consumed daily.
The underlying benefits of caffeine are mainly memory, concentration, and physical performance enhancement. Coffee and other caffeine-induced beverages affect the cardiovascular system, central nervous system, and locomotive functions of the body. While caffeine consumption is linked with benefits in most cases, sometimes it can even become detrimental for health.
Caffeine consumption can be classified into the following,
- High caffeine intake: more than 400 mg in a day
- Moderate caffeine intake: between 200-400 mg in a day
- Low caffeine intake: less than 200 mg in a day.
As caffeine dependence and abuse are becoming more common, it can cause caffeine intoxication. Therefore, individuals are at risk of unnatural and premature death. This article will cover both the positive and lethal effects of caffeine upon consumption.
Can coffee cause caffeine toxicity?
Due to caffeine’s rising use in today’s world, the WHO (World Health Organization) has stated that caffeine intoxications denote those symptoms or conditions caused due to an overdose of caffeine intake. It is also termed caffeinism by some medical professionals.
Some of the common symptoms of caffeinism include psychomotor agitation, tachycardia, agitation, tremors, gastrointestinal disturbances, insomnia, restlessness, and agitation. In some severe cases, caffeinism can even lead to death.
Both habitual caffeine users and caffeine abstainers can experience caffeine overdose when they consume too much energy drinks. High doses of caffeine that exceeds more than 7 cups a day can lead to tremor and anxiety.
However, some medical professionals have suggested that life-threatening caffeine overdose is mostly caused by caffeine-induced medication intake compared to caffeinated beverages and foods.
Effects of caffeine in different aspects of bodily functions
Central Nervous System
Apart from influencing cognitive performance, caffeine also helps in increasing the perception of wakefulness and alertness. However, high doses of caffeine can even cause anxiety. It even antagonizes A2 and A1 receptors that can lead to cerebral vasoconstriction and seizures.
Besides, caffeine can restore or prevent memory loss along with other mental disorders. Studies have revealed that caffeine brings relief from a wide range of withdrawal symptoms.
The Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board Committee had reported that 150 mg of caffeine could enhance cognitive performance for almost 10 hours.
Caffeine has been reported to lower the risk of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s from developing in older people (1).
High caffeine dosage can raise heart rate along with blood pressure, temporarily. Doctors have guessed two reasons for this situation arising. First, it can either be due to increased adrenaline or temporary hormonal blockage that widens the arteries.
This can be fatal for people who have underlying cardiovascular complications. For instance, irregular heart beats accompanied by caffeine intake can make the heart pump blood harder, leading to complications.
However, The American Heart Association published a journal in 2016 that stated that regular coffee or caffeine consumption is not strong enough to cause atrial fibrillation. Besides, some studies have also indicated that caffeine intake during pregnancy can affect the baby’s heart rate.
Excretory and Digestive System
Caffeine acts as a stimulant for increasing gut motility. Such stimulation can cause diarrhea or loose stools that are often accompanied by dehydration. In some cases, caffeine can also be a mild diuretic that can intensify urine output. This is because the extra caffeine does not get stored in the body.
People who drink coffee more than 4 cups a day can experience Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome in the long run.
Caffeine also increases the acid content in the stomach that causes stomach upset or heartburn. People who have a history of stomach problems like ulcers and acid reflux should avoid drinking caffeinated drinks (2).
Caffeine overdose interferes with metabolism and absorption of calcium. This causes a condition called osteoporosis, which is the thinning of the bones. Apart from that, caffeine also makes the muscles twitch that generates a jittery feeling in the body.
One of the famous symptoms of caffeine withdrawal is achy muscles. Adolescents and adults who consume caffeine in high doses also report behavioral disorders. Especially among professional athletes as they consume caffeine for tackling intense workouts and fatigue.
They tend to suffer from muscle dysmorphia. This disorder is characterized by compulsivity and obsessiveness for achieving a muscular and lean physique. Therefore, people with this disorder experience both mental and physical complications.
Caffeine consumption has increased among young people in recent years in medications, foods, and drinks. Although, in most cases, caffeine works as a psychostimulant, uncontrolled intake can cause physical and mental complications.
Therefore, consuming caffeine in a regulated amount can reduce its detrimental effects and improve cognitive skills and produce energy.
Madelline completed her studies in community healthcare education. Apart from being a freelance writer, she also volunteers at the local non-profit organisations that help people suffering from mental disorders like depression and anxiety.