The Caffeine Habit
There are more than 170 million addicts in the U.S., and odds are you’re one of them. You consume your drug of choice every day; you’d feel ill if you couldn’t have it; you’d have a hard time quitting it.
The chemical that has you hooked, of course, is caffeine, and if you think you get it only in coffee, tea, cola and–in smaller doses–chocolate, you haven’t been paying attention. Food manufacturers recognize a hot market when they see it, and with anywhere from 55% to 90% of the U.S. population consuming caffeine every day, depending on the study, the stuff is now turning up everywhere. Red Bull energy drink may have the highest profile of the new caffeine-spiked products, but at every turn there are others: caffeine-infused gum, lip balm, mints, beer, candy, sunflower seeds, even soap–which is supposed to provide its caffeine boost through the skin. Then too there is a product called Blow, a white caffeine-based powder appallingly marketed in vials. It’s meant to be stirred into water or other drinks, not snorted, but what it evokes is unmistakable. Meantime, a number of products that were already caffeinated, including Diet Pepsi and some brands of coffee, are offering higher-octane formulations with an extra dose of caffeine.
Judging by the cash registers, consumers couldn’t be happier. Sales of all caffeinated drinks went up more than 55% last year, according to the industry publication Beverage Digest. What pleases the public, however, may displease doctors. I decided to take a look at just how dangerous all this caffeine may be.
Regular doses of caffeine have been the subject of countless medical studies. We know the substance effortlessly crosses the blood-brain barrier, creating swift and rewarding effects. Caffeine works by dampening neurotransmitters that would normally make you sleepy, improving–temporarily–cognitive function and even athletic performance. In fact, U.S. military nutritionists recommend an occasional 100 mg to 600 mg for fighter pilots and soldiers when they need an extra boost to stay awake. The typical consumer drinks about 200 mg to 300 mg a day in the form of two to three cups of coffee. Read more here…