Benefits of caffeine supplementation

13/02/2015 Tags: all

Please note: This article is for informational purposes only. We do not encourage caffeine supplementation. Any undesirable effects from caffeine supplementation are sole responsibility of the user.

Caffeine has long been considered as the most commonly used and exploited drug across the globe. Individuals from Sweden, Germany, Norway, Netherlands, and Denmark are recorded to have the greatest caffeine intake across the globe in as much as 300 mgs a day.

As a nootropic agent, caffeine works through exciting the central nervous system (CNS). It has been associated with alertness for short periods while studies have shown that it can help in increasing reaction time, energy, working memory, physical performance and delay fatigue.

Other names

Cafeina, Koffein, Mateina, Theine, Methylltheobromine, Alert-pep

What are the sources of caffeine?

Caffeine is found on leaves and seeds of different plants. Some of the most common natural resources of caffeine include coffee beans, tea leaves, yerba mate, cocoa beans, kola nuts and guarana (Paullinia Cupana). It can also be found on some carbonated beverages (e.g. sodas, colas), energy drinks and some drug products.

How much caffeine should you take?

Individuals aged 19 or more are suggested to take no more than 400 mgs of caffeine a day. Expecting and lactating mothers however are restricted to take no more than 300 mgs a day. These caffeine dosages are considered safe. Note that too much caffeine intake is not recommended as it can increase the levels of cortisol.  Cortisol is a hormone that inhibits caffeine’s beneficial effects when present in significant levels.

What is the chemical structure of caffeine?

Caffeine’s chemical name is 1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthine. It is actually a xanthine compound that is composed of 3 methyl groups attached to the xanthine carbons. Pure caffeine appears colorless. It is soluble in boiling water.

Metabolism of caffeine

Caffeine is soluble in water. It is also absorbed thoroughly on the GI tract after oral ingestion. Peak effects of caffeine occurs an approximate of 45 minutes after intake. When caffeine is absorbed in the form of coffee however, it is not taken completely.

Caffeine easily crosses the blood brain barrier (BBB) and placenta. Hence, fetus of pregnant women and infants absorbs caffeine through breast milk. It is rapidly distributed to body tissues as well. Caffeine elimination occurs through the kidneys, some of which are unchanged on urine. In infants however, elimination of caffeine is slower compared to adults due to immature kidney functions.

What are the beneficial effects of caffeine?

Better cognition and memory

Numerous studies have been undertaken to evaluate the effects of caffeine on cognition and memory. Findings revealed that it increases task attention and reaction time. It is said to help in improving attention, alertness and skill performance as well. One study even revealed that it helps in improving a person’s performance on explicit information related tasks.

Enhanced alertness

Caffeine is a well-known stimulant. It helps in improving performance and alertness to individuals who are sleep deprived. Numerous studies have also shown that this particular stimulant is helpful in enhancing performance, wakefulness and alertness even during sleep loss. A study even shows that performance deterioration due to sleep deprivation is reduced by caffeine. These studies prove the efficaciousness of caffeine against sleep deprivation amongst others.

Promotes greater affect

Caffeine intake helps in improving vigilance and arousal. It also demonstrates desirable effects on an individual’s cognitive performance. An interesting study also shows that caffeine ingestion affects affect. Positive affect can improve exercise performance and adherence. This particular study revealed that caffeine can improve moods, affect and experience amongst the research participants.

Increases reaction time

There are conflicting data regarding the ability of caffeine to increase reactions time. Some studies have shown that it can help in improving stimulus identification and processing accuracy, increase reaction time, and decrease inattention. Other studies however revealed that caffeine has little to no effect on an individual’s reaction time. Despite these conflicting results, more recent researches revealed that caffeine might help in increasing attention and reaction time on individuals with moderate sleep.

Improved physical performance

Another benefit that has been associated with caffeine supplementation or intake includes improved physical performance. Caffeine is said to hell in decreasing accumulated fatigue resulting to improved physical performance amongst athletes. Caffeine intake leads to decreased cortisol levels and increased testosterone levels – both of which are associated with decrease in experience of fatigue. Some studies have shown that it is also effective in improving physical abilities of athletes who had limited sleep. Nonetheless, these beneficial effects disappear shortly after its peak effect subsides.

Is caffeine supplementation safe?

Caffeine is considered as a psychoactive drug, however, it is generally safe when taken on recommended amounts or dosages. Caffeine toxicity may occur with excessive intake leading to symptoms of irritability, palpitations, anxiety, slurred speech, muscle twitching, insomnia, and unexplained excitement. Larger overdose may cause psychosis, judgment lapses, mania, delusions or depression.