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Probably the world's number one drug, caffeine has powerful effects on the system, and can also be addictive.

Caffeine concentration peaks in the system approximately thirty to sixty minutes after consumption, though its effects can last anywhere from four to six hours.

The average American ingests around 200 milligrams per day. This is the equivalent to:

  • Two 8-ounce cups of coffee
  • Three to four 12-ounce cans of caffeinated fizzy drink
  • Four large cups of tea
Given how much tea the British drink (not to mention coffee and sodas), it's likely that we drink at least as much as our American cousins.

Many people experience uncomfortable symptoms from caffeine consumption, although often they are unaware that this is the source. These can include:
  • anxiety
  • concentration problems
  • dizziness
  • excitability
  • gastrointestinal pain
  • insomnia and sleep disorders
  • irritability
  • restlessness
  • regular headaches
If you drink the quantities outlines above, or indeed more, and regularly experience any of these symptoms, you might want to consider reducing your consumption.

There is also research linking this substance with various illnesses, including:
  • Birth defects and Miscarriages
  • Cancer
  • Cardiac malfunction and heart disease
  • Fibrocystic breast disease
  • Gastro-intestinal ulcers and heartburn
  • High blood pressure (Hypertension)
  • Infertility
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS)
The two most powerful links seem to be with osteoporosis and birth defects.

As many people know, this is a powerful diuretic, and it has been demonstrated to increase calcium loss through the urine. For example, drinking just one 8-ounce cup of coffee causes around five milligrams of calcium to be lost. In the long term this could result in decreased bone calcium, and increase the risk of osteoporosis.

Similarly, current evidence indicates an increased risk for difficult conception, miscarriage, and delivery of low birth-weight. As a result the US FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recommends that women eliminate or drastically reduce their intake if they are pregnant or planning to become so.

The best advice? Look for ways to kick the habit, or at least reduce your consumption. Alternatives include water, herbal teas, or fruit juice.



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