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Caffeine Awareness Month: How Much Do You Know About the Buzz in Your Coffee?

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Posted on March 3, 2016 by Delaware Valley University.

March is Caffeine Awareness Month! Should you celebrate by going heavy on the coffee every morning this month before class at Delaware Valley University? Probably not. Instead, it's a better idea to learn more about your coffee or energy drink and the effects that caffeine has on your mind and body. 

According to a report issued by the National Consumers League, around 400 milligrams of caffeine per day is usually a safe intake for healthy adults. This equals about six to seven cups of black tea, four to five cups of home-brewed coffee or five cans of Red Bull. One serving of caffeine is usually an 8-fluid-ounce cup of home-brewed coffee or 8.4-fluid-ounce energy drink, which each equals about 70 to 90 milligrams of caffeine. 

Central Nervous System

Caffeine reaches your brain quickly and stimulates your central nervous system. Too much caffeine can give you a headache, while not enough caffeine after developing a tolerance to it can also give you a headache. Other forms of caffeine withdrawal include anxiety, irritability and drowsiness.

Caffeine can make you feel jittery if you're not used to it and should be avoided if you have an anxiety disorder or sleep disorder. 

Because caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, it can also improve your mood due to the same adenosine-blocking effect that makes you feel alert. Business Insider stated that studies have found a connection between caffeine consumption and a reduced risk of depression and even a lower risk of suicide. 

However, caffeine also boosts adrenaline levels, triggering the fight-or-flight response. This can make you irritable, anxious and emotional.

Circulatory and Respiratory Systems

Caffeine is absorbed through your stomach and reaches your bloodstream within an hour or two. It can cause your blood pressure to spike initially, but long-term high blood pressure effects haven't been found. People who have an irregular heartbeat may find that caffeine makes their heart work harder.

If you're dealing with high blood pressure or heart conditions, speak with your doctor to find out if it's safe for you to be consuming caffeine. Too much caffeine could cause a rapid or irregular heartbeat and breathing trouble. 

Reproductive System

It's especially important for pregnant women to speak with their doctors about consuming caffeine. Because it travels through the placenta, it can cause the baby's heart rate and metabolism to increase. This could lead to slowed fetal growth.

Caffeine can affect women trying to get pregnant as well, as large amounts may interfere with estrogen production and metabolism.

Consider this information the next time you reach for an extra cup of coffee or another energy drink. Remember that while caffeine can wake you up and make you feel more alert, it can also make you feel anxious or jittery.

Click here for more tips and other information from DelVal.