The Internet offers plenty of caffeine myths and facts but which are false and which are true. You might have some misperceptions on caffeine, and since most of us get a daily dose from the morning cup of Joe, it’s best to get your facts straight.
The most well-known sources of caffeine are coffee and tea leaves, but there are also others almost as common but often ignored such as cocoa beans and kola nuts, for example.
6 Surprising Caffeine Myths And Facts
Caffeine content also varies in similar products depending on how they are produced and even decaf coffee still has a bit of caffeine left in it. There are also many OTC drugs that contain caffeine such as cold medication and pain relievers simply because caffeine is a mild painkiller and boosts the effects of other pain relieving substances.
Caffeine is addictive
While a lot of people think caffeine is addictive, you might want to think twice before accusing someone (or yourself) of it. It does stimulate the central nervous system and regular caffeine intake leads to mild physical dependence but it’s pretty far from the one caused by addictive drugs.
Those who drink two or more cups of coffee a day that decide to quit cold turkey may experience some symptoms of withdrawal such as fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, anxiety and headaches for the following 1-2 days.
These symptoms are mild to moderate so caffeine can’t be classified as a highly addictive drug.
Caffeine can cause insomnia
If you’re thinking that your morning coffee (I’m talking about 1-2 cups at most) might make it harder to fall and stay asleep, that’s not exactly true. Your body is exceptionally good at processing caffeine – after 8-10 hours 75% of it is eliminated.
However, if you reach for a cup of coffee after lunch or even later in the day it might affect your sleep. The golden rule is to not consume caffeine at least six hours before bed – you should be fine if you stick to it.
Caffeine can lead to cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease
OK, these allegations might seem a bit extreme since scientific evidence says up to 300 milligrams of caffeine (that’s about 3 cups of coffee) every day doesn’t cause harm in most healthy individuals. Nevertheless, some people such as older individuals and those suffering from high blood pressure might want to opt for decaf.
Caffeine can increase calcium and magnesium loss in urine, hence the claim it can increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. But it only happens at really high levels, over 700 milligrams per day, an amount which most people never come close to.
Also, whatever small amount of calcium you lose from drinking one cup of coffee you can get it back by simply adding two tablespoons of milk. Even so, older individuals may be more sensitive to the calcium loss caused by caffeine as research does show a link between caffeine and hip fracture risk in this scenario.
Coffee, and caffeine, in general, will also cause a temporary, mild rise in blood pressure and heart rate. However, multiple extended studies had found no link between caffeine consumption and irregular heartbeats, higher cholesterol or an increased risk of CVD.
Just like for the calcium lowering effect, those who already have heart problems or high-blood pressure may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
Perhaps the most exaggerated claim is the one that says caffeine can cause or increase the risk of cancer. Research has revealed there is no link between cancer and caffeine. Even more, it can even lessen the risk of developing certain types of cancer.
You should avoid caffeine when trying to conceive
Since caffeine is a very common substance a lot of us ingest on a daily basis, there is plenty of research on how it affects the human body. Numerous studies have been unable to find a link between a low caffeine intake of about one cup of coffee per day and low fertility, birth defects, low birth rate, miscarriage and premature birth.
However, consuming over 200 milligrams of caffeine per day can increase the risk of miscarriage, so try not to drink more than two cups of coffee every day if you’re trying to conceive or you’re already pregnant.
Caffeine can cause dehydration
If your kidneys are working well, you probably experienced the milk diuretic effect of coffee. However, it doesn’t actually cause dehydration since coffee is still a drink and its high water content makes up for the fluid loss.
Caffeine can reduce the effects of alcohol
I think it’s a pretty common belief that caffeine can help you sober up, but it turns out this is just in our head. If you’re already drunk, drinking a cup of Joe won’t help you sober up faster and even if you drink coffee and alcohol at the same time you’ll still get drunk but possibly also jittery.