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The buzz on caffeine

Whether you drink your coffee to get you going in the morning, or to overcome that mid-afternoon slump, there’s nothing quite like the smell of coffee beans or the satisfaction from a perfectly brewed cuppa!
Caffeine ranks amongst the most consumed dietary ingredients throughout the world, ingested daily by millions of people to increase wakefulness, alleviate fatigue and improve concentration and focus – as well as for its delicious taste and rich aroma.

But how exactly does caffeine work?

Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant and most of its affects are seen in the brain. Caffeine (which is the common name for 1,3,7‐trimethylxanthine) is similar in structure to adenosine, a chemical found in the brain which slows down activity and induces sleepiness. Caffeine has the potential to compete with adenosine for adenosine receptors, and when it binds to these receptors it induces alertness and heightens concentration, warding off fatigue. Caffeine is rapidly and almost completely digested, absorbed and metabolized. Within 60 to 90 minutes of drinking a cup of coffee, caffeine reaches peak concentration in the bloodstream and it takes 4 to 6 hours for its effects to wear off.

There are many benefits associated with drinking caffeine, such as enhanced energy, mental alertness and cognitive function and improved physical performance. However, if you’re experiencing insomnia, nervousness, jitteriness, anxiety, elevated heart rate and other such effects, you’re probably over-doing it a bit and this is your body’s way of telling you to cut back on your caffeine intake.

It is important to remember that there are individual differences in response to caffeine intake, due to different tolerance levels as well as genetics. Special consideration should also be given to individuals who are dehydrated, pregnant, breastfeeding as well as to children and adolescents.

How much caffeine is really safe?

Scientifically speaking, up to 400 milligrams(mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in 3 to 4 cups of coffee.

The table below shows the average amount of caffeine in popular beverages and foods:

Instant coffee 76 – 106mg Diet Cola 60 – 120mg
Brewed coffee 100 – 170mg Hot chocolate (cocoa) 5 – 12mg
Espresso 43 – 90mg Rooibos / Herbal teas 0 mg
Ceylon tea 43 – 80mg Milk chocolate 27mg
Green tea 25 – 48mg Dark chocolate 8 – 12mg
Energy drinks 60 – 80mg

So whilst the recommendation says that 3 – 4 cups of coffee per day should be OK, remember that caffeine is also present in regular and green tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate, certain ice creams and some medications amongst others.

We would advise an intake of 1 – 3 cups per day, especially if you are consuming caffeine from other sources in order to prevent the uncomfortable effects of over-caffeinating such as anxiety, heart palpitations or sleeplessness.

Optimising rest in order to reduce reliance on caffeine:

Sleeplessness or insomnia can often be caused by stress, anxiety and feelings of depression. Conversely, lack of sleep can compound the symptoms of mental illness. Our consumption of stimulants (such as caffeine) to cope with feelings of stress and exhaustion can also make falling asleep difficult and heighten our sense of anxiety.

VitaminMe has created a natural Sleep + Anxiety formulation to help you fall asleep quicker, remain in a deep sleep for longer and limit feelings of anxiety during the day.

What if I’m looking for an energy boost without the caffeine?

When our bodies are deficient or low in essential nutrient levels, it can often compound feelings of lethargy and low mood. The VitaminMe Energy + Mood tablets are designed to restore these all-important energy and mood levels and offer a natural solution to heightened alertness and activity levels.

With key ingredients B12, B6 and Folic Acid, this formulation is designed to increase energy levels, diminished mood swing tendencies and lessen feelings of exhaustion and lethargy.

For an in-depth analysis of your personal energy levels and overall wellness, take our nutritionist-backed interactive online consultation.