Caffeine usage: a practice of moderation

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Caffeine, and caffeined beverages, is a safe and effective aid to mood and mental focus. However, like many things, there is a limit to caffeine consumption where use becomes abuse and enjoyment begins to err on the side of addiction. In spite of the potential for misuse, caffeine is a relatively low-risk stimulant found in many different products but used ubiquitously by cultures from all over the world.

Overall, when taken by a health-conscious and informed individual, caffeine is an effective supplement for focus that justifies its universal popularity.

Caffeine is sold nearly everywhere, from restaurants to gas stations and truck stops. It is consumed in a variety of ways in products ranging from coffee, soda and energy drinks to pills. But how much caffeine is in the various products isn’t common knowledge. Regardless of the method used to consume caffeine, its effects are mostly dependent on the dosage.

For example, a person would be consuming around 150 mg of caffeine regardless of whether they’re drinking a large 16 fluid ounce (fl oz.) pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks or three 12 fl oz. cans of Mountain Dew.

Another popular source of caffeine for those on the go is energy shots. The vast majority of one to two fl oz. liquid shots on the market contains over 200 mg caffeine, with some reaching levels as high as 500 mg.

When it comes to side effects, the most common positive benefits of caffeine include an increase in alertness, focus and energy overall, as well as mood enhancement. Throughout the world, people of all ages and professions are using caffeine as the perfect aid to knock out an extra couple of pages on their essay before going to bed or to squeeze out five more reps on the bench press. For many, the positive effects are highly visible and often explain their continued consumption habits.

According to UW-Fox Valley Alcohol & Drug Education (AODE) Director Wendy Seegers, complications mostly arise when consumption exceeds 250 mg of caffeine per day. At this point, a person is at much higher risk for headaches, heart arrhythmia, and sleep deprivation. All of which the possibility of developing into long-term problems. Luckily, caffeine is a substance users can easily cut back dosage on or make changes to alleviate the negative effects of overconsumption.

“A person who is over-consuming caffeine or finds they have symptoms of caffeine addiction can easily quit cold turkey, if necessary,” Seegers said. “When using a lower-risk dose of caffeine, you really don’t see too many problems.”

When consumed in moderation, caffeine can be an effective tool for adults who want to enhance their focus and mood. Although the potential exists for detrimental side effects when not used responsibly, the benefits seem to outweigh the disadvantages when used responsibly. In any case, health comes down to more than caffeine usage alone. Therefore, to classify or condemn caffeine as a dangerous, harmful or addictive substance would be a haphazard assessment. In terms of public perspective, caffeine is widely accepted in various forms all over the world. Coffee, tea, soda and countless other goods make up an enormous market of caffeinated products.

In the fast-paced, competitive society we live in today, caffeine is a commodity and a tool.

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