Caffeine - what it is and how it can effect you

Caffeine is a white crystalline powder known as trimethylxanthine.  It is a drug that stimulates the central nervous system (CNS).  Caffeine dilates blood vessels, opens airways to the lungs, strengthens muscles, stimulates the brain cortex and increases the production of urine.

Greater than 3-4 cups of instant coffee a day can lead to excitability and anxiety.  There maybe physical dependency and withdrawal effects.

Adenosine is involved in the regulation of a whole host of basic body functions (renal, respiratory, cardiovascular and CNS).  Adenosine usual actions is to slow down the functioning of various organs. Caffeine has the opposite effect to adenosine; therefore it takes over the adenosine receptor sites causing adenosine to compete with caffeine.  If you stop consuming caffeine abruptly there is an over supply of adenosine receptors.   This is when you are likely to get withdrawal effects like headaches, lethargy and irritability.

Long term use of caffeine can interfere with sleep patterns, cause anxiety and depression, result in fatigue and irritability, aggravate stomach disorders and ulcers and interfere with nutrient absorption.  Caffeine can also affect fertility in both men and women and can cause miscarriage and increase the risk of low birth weight.


Amount of caffeine in drinks

  • Instant Coffee (1 teaspoon)- 60-80mg/250ml cup
  • Percolated coffee - 60-120mg/250ml cup
  • Tea - 10-50mg/250ml cup
  • Coca-Cola - 36mg/375ml can
  • Milk Chocolate - 20mg/100g bar
  • Energy Drinks (red bull) - 80mg/250ml can

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