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Breakdown of Caffeine

I work part-time at a catering company and during the busy months of wedding season, there are often many times where I would leave work late at night just to return eight hours later to work the following day shift. Usually, I will go into the morning shift with a cup of coffee in my hand for a slight energy boost in the morning. It was not until I was in college that coffee was a part of my morning routine most days because of the caffeine.


What is Caffeine and How Does it Work?

Caffeine is a “naturally occurring” central nervous system stimulant (Evans J, Richards JR, Battisti AS). Many people use caffeine to battle fatigue and one non-FDA-approved way to treat migraines (Evans J, Richards JR, Battisti AS). Caffeine works on receptors in the brain by crossing the blood-brain barrier, resulting in four subtypes. The one subtype, A2a, is responsible for the wakefulness effects of caffeine that someone feels after consuming (Evans J, Richards JR, Battisti AS).


What has Caffeine?

The most well-known source of caffeine is coffee beans; however, caffeine is also found in cacao beans, kola nuts, tea leaves, yerba mate, the guarana berry, and as an additive to sodas and energy drinks (Evans J, Richards JR, Battisti AS). Caffeine has a high bioavailability, meaning that it will be easily absorbed by the body when consumed.


Side Effects and Beneficial Effects of Caffeine

Common side effects from consuming caffeine include anxiety, restlessness, fidgeting, insomnia, facial flushing, increased urination, muscle twitches or tremors, irritability, agitation, elevated heart rate, and upset stomach (Evans J, Richards JR, Battisti AS). Caffeine can be beneficial and low doses of caffeine work with the brain to decrease fatigue and increase alertness (Walter, Kristin).


The Journal of American Medical Association reported some potential health benefits with drinking coffee specifically, including a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and endometrial cancer, as well as a lower risk of liver cancer, gallstones, and gallbladder cancer. Caffeinated coffee has also been associated with a reduced risk of Parkinson’s disease and liver cirrhosis (Walter, Kristin).



References:

  1. Evans J, Richards JR, Battisti AS. Caffeine. [Updated 2022 Nov 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519490/

  2. Walter, Kristin. Caffeine and Health. JAMA. 2022;327(7):693. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.21452

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