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The Ups and Downs of Caffeine Addiction

Nutrition | January 16, 2011

Caffeine is probably the most widely used drug in the world. It's been in our bloodstream for thousands of years. In modern times caffeine is usually consumed in the form of coffee, tea and chocolate, or soft drinks like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, in energy drinks like Red Bull or Monster Energy, or commonly used to cut drugs like cocaine. Numerous bodybuilding and exercse supplements contain substantial doses of caffeiene. Pharmaceuticals like Bayer Maximum Strength and Excedrin sport a dosage equal to a cup of black tea. It's even being added to shampoo to stimute follicles and hair growth.

Physiological & Psychological Dependence

Extremely addictive, caffeine integrates itself as a normal daily routine for optimal performance. This is both a physiological and psychological dependence. Missing this daily dose can result in fatigue and inability to focus. If satisfied, caffeine provides exceptional mental clarity and sustained energy for even the most grueling of days.

Some Personal History

I've been drinking coffee on and off since my early 20s. In recent years I switched to a single sugar-free energy drink per day. These typically provide up to 200 mg of caffeine and a suite of other supplements like taurine, L-Carnitine, Ginseng, Guarana, Glucuronolactone, vitamin B6 and B12. On these days this early morning kick lasts the entire day and can result in nearly 20 hours of continuous work.

The Down Side

The jitters. Nervous reactions and musle twitches. Racing heartbeat even during times of rest. These are the cons of caffeie dependence. So I took a week off to see what that would be like. What happened? More yawns of course. Less focus and clarity. Certainly decreased productivity. But all in all not a bad experience. I eased off the first day with only a slight intake of perhaps 60 mg, equal to a cup of tea. The remaining six days were caffeine-free.

After that experience I understood that I had the ability to control my intake. I've beaten other addictions like this. Caffeine is certainly the most difficult simply because it seems to do a lot more good than harm.

Moderation is the Key

Yep, caffeine is not all that bad. But perhaps moderation is the key, to be used when it is really needed and not as a routine. This is a decision that each user has to assess individually.

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