by Glen Depke I have shared for years that we have three legal drugs available to us on a regular basis. These three drugs are sugar, alcohol and our subject today which is caffeine. Searching a medical dictionary, the definition of a drug is, a chemical substance that affects the processes of the mind or body. With today’s article you will see how this “drug” affects you in so many ways and I will leave it up to you whether caffeine is a pro or a con. Once we reach the end of today’s article, I will make my recommendations in regard to caffeine. I do encourage you to take in all the information shared today though and create your own conclusion before you get my opinion. Caffeine Enhances the Function of these Substances Hormones Caffeine stimulates the release of Adrenaline from the Adrenal Glands: Caution: Excessive release of Adrenaline from the Adrenal Glands can be detrimental. Caffeine increases plasma Estrone levels (especially in postmenopausal women). Neurohormones Caffeine increases the body’s manufacture of Cyclic Adenosine Monophosphate (cAMP). Neurotransmitters Caffeine facilitates the production/release of Acetylcholine (Caffeine functions as an antagonist of Adenosine, a compound that inhibits the release of Acetylcholine). Caffeine stimulates the release of Dopamine within the Brain. Caffeine increases Norepinephrine (NE) synthesis and release within the Brain. Pharmaceutical Drugs Caffeine increases the absorption of Ergotamine (and many Ergotamine preparations include 100 mg Caffeine per 1 mg Ergotamine (e.g. Cafergot)). Vitamins Caffeine enhances the ability of Choline to stimulate the production of Acetylcholine (Caffeine competes with Adenosine, a compound that is known to inhibit the synthesis of Acetylcholine). These Foods Prolong the Actions of Caffeine Fruit When Caffeine is consumed at the same time as Grapefruit (especially Grapefruit juice), the oral clearance of Caffeine is decreased by 23% and the elimination half-life of Caffeine is increased by 31%. These Factors Counteract the Potentially Toxic Effects of Caffeine Exercise Moderate to intense Exercise reduces Caffeine-induced Anxiety. Caution: Contradictions to the Beneficial Actions Listed Above Nervous System Caffeine MAY diminish Mental Function: One study using doses of 100 mg Caffeine administered to normal, healthy adults concluded that the subjects’ ability to recall lists was diminished following Caffeine administration. However several other controlled studies on healthy adults have shown very little or no measurable reduction in Memory following Caffeine administration. Caffeine Interferes with these Substances Amino Acids Caffeine lowers plasma levels of Phenylalanine and Tyrosine. Hormones Caffeine interferes with the endogenous production of Melatonin. Caffeine decreases free Testosterone levels (in postmenopausal women). Lipids Caffeine interferes with the absorption of Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO) – for this reason people using CMO are advised to avoid Caffeine and Caffeine-containing beverages such as Coffee during the period that they use CMO. Minerals Caffeine decreases the absorption of Calcium. Caffeine decreases the absorption of Iron. Caffeine increases the urinary excretion of Magnesium. Caffeine increases the excretion of Potassium. Caffeine causes the Kidneys to excrete Phosphorus. Caffeine increases the excretion of Zinc. Vitamins Caffeine causes the depletion of Biotin. Caffeine causes the depletion of Inositol. Caffeine interferes with the absorption of Vitamin A. Caffeine causes the depletion of Vitamin B1. Caffeine Enhances these Potentially Toxic Substances Organic Acids Caffeine increases levels of Lactic Acid in the Muscles of people who engage in Endurance Exercise: However Caffeine also exerts other BENEFICIAL effects on people who undertake Endurance Exercise. Caffeine vs. Coffee Metabolism Caffeine is known to improve some aspects of Athletic Performance. Many athletes drink moderate quantities of Coffee in order to obtain the performance-enhancing effects of the Coffee’s Caffeine content. Recent studies have shown that Coffee contains other compounds that may counteract Caffeine’s performance-enhancing effects. Therefore athletes who wish to obtain Caffeine’s performance-enhancing effects are advised to use Caffeine in tablet/capsule form rather than drinking moderate amounts of Coffee: Caution: the use of supplemental Caffeine for performance enhancement is banned by most sporting organizations. Myths Dispelled Cardiovascular System Latest studies indicate that Caffeine does NOT increase the risk of Heart Attack. Latest studies indicate that Caffeine does NOT increase the risk of Strokes. Immune System There is little or no evidence that Caffeine plays any role in the development of Cancer: Formerly, Caffeine was speculated to increase the risk of Bladder Cancer. Caffeine has been cleared of suspicions of causing Breast Cancer. Formerly, Caffeine was speculated to increase the risk of Lung Cancer. Formerly, Caffeine was speculated to increase the risk of Pancreas Cancer. Dosage Recommendations Athletic Peformance Based on clinical studies that measured the performance-enhancing effects of Caffeine, the optimal dosage has been determined to be 9 mg per kg of bodyweight. Athletes should note that the use of Caffeine (over a preset level) is banned by sporting organizations. Toxic Dosages Side effects such as Insomnia, Irritability, Tremor and Anxiety occur following the ingestion of 1,500 mg of Caffeine per day (approximately 12 cups of Coffee). The lethal dose of Caffeine is 10 grams (approximately 100 cups of Coffee). Bioavailability Caffeine is rapidly absorbed (when consumed orally) from the Intestine: Significant serum levels are reached in 30-45 minutes after oral ingestion of Caffeine. Complete oral ingestion occurs during the following 90 minutes. Peak plasma levels (Tmax) of orally ingested Caffeine occurs approximately 2 hours after ingestion. Caffeine’s serum half-life is 3.5 – 5 hours. Caffeine concentrates equally in almost all (water-soluble) parts of the body (including the Brain). Most Caffeine is metabolized by the Liver prior to its excretion by the Kidneys. Legal Considerations Athletes International sporting organizations including the International Olympics Committee (IOC) have restricted the quantity of Caffeine that an athlete may consume without being disqualified from competition. The limit is 12 mcg of Caffeine per ml of urine. A 70 kg person could consume up to six normal-sized cups of coffee one hour prior to exercise without exceeding this limit. Pharmaceutical Availability of Caffeine Oral Caffeine Products Pure Caffeine is supplied from pharmacies under the names Awake, NoDoz and Vivarin. Topical Caffeine Products Percutafeine is a Pharmaceutical form of Caffeine that is supplied as a topically-applied gel designed to facilitate weight loss in specific areas of the body to which it is applied. Wow, there really is quite a bit to ingest when talking about caffeine. You probably even recognized that there are a few contradictions when discussing the research with caffeine. While there are some recognized pros, there is definitely a fair share of cons also. With this said, I would like to share my opinion of caffeine at this time. If you find that you have any level of dependency on caffeine, I would suggest that this is not the best place to be within your health and wellness. The dependency on caffeine will often coincide with an adrenal dysfunction as well poor health practices overall. You know, burning the candle at both ends and in the middle. This in itself can lead to an array of health challenges in your life. Simply recognize that if you “need” your coffee, you really “need” to get off coffee. If you recognize a dependency on caffeine, I would recommend increasing your sleep and “me” time. Along with this, support your adrenals with Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5), which would assist with enhancing your adrenal function. Focus on your fundamentals of health and of course, get off caffeine. Feel free to complete our complimentary Adrenal Stress Profile assessment to understand your adrenal function. If you have been on caffeine for some time, you would likely start by going “half caff.” This would be making your coffee half caffeinated and half decaffeinated. After using your “half caff” for about 10 days move toward using only decaf for about another 10 days. From here you should be ready to leave the coffee behind as long as you are already getting more sleep, increasing “me” time and taking care of your fundamentals of health. For those that are not dependent on caffeine yet enjoy the taste of their cup of Joe or for those that may use this for enhancing performance, there are a couple of options. If you simply enjoy the taste and aroma of your coffee, be sure to use an organic and naturally water decaffeinated coffee. Coffee is a highly sprayed crop, so organic is obviously very important and a 100% chemical free water decaffeination process never uses methylene chloride or ethyl acetate to remove the caffeine from coffee beans. If you are looking the enhanced performance from caffeine, it would likely be a better idea to try a Yerba Mate’ Tea. Yerba Mate’ Tea has high antioxidant properties, contains important nutrients and can give you the caffeine “jolt” you need without the adverse side effects of coffee. I happen to be one of those that do truly enjoy the taste and aroma of a good cup of coffee, be sure to purchase an organic naturally decaffeinated bean. And remember that what you put in the coffee is often what creates some health challenges. The high sugar content of most cafe bought coffee is the big issue and really, say not to soy milk in coffee. Soy milk is a non fermented soy and potentially damaging to your health. It is also important to add that coffee and some of the ingredients we add such as dairy and soy are all potential cross reactive food sensitivities. Personally, I am “off the charts” sensitive to coffee and refuse to drink soy based on my comments above. Just one of the many reasons we test our clients for food sensitivity. If you have any comments or questions about this article, leave a post below for me to answer personally.