Caffeine, are you addicted?

Today, I’m skipping my daily cup of coffee.

Yesterday, I didn’t get a chance to have my usual cup in the morning. I felt somewhat lightheaded and even had a headache. I wasn’t aware that my body had become so used to having one or two cups a day.

It seems I’m not alone in my love of caffeine. With a coffee shop on almost every corner, it’s no surprise that one study showed that more Americans of all ages are getting a caffeine buzz, with nearly 90% of adults and 76% of children getting caffeinated on a daily basis. In fact, humans have been using caffeine since the Stone Age.

An 8 oz cup of brewed coffee has about 135 mg of caffeine, an 8 oz cup of caffeinated tea has about 50 mg of caffeine, a 12 oz glass of Coca-Cola has about 34.5 mg of caffeine, and a 12 oz Diet Coke has 46.5 mg of caffeine.

Scientists say many Americans may not be aware of the amount of caffeine they’re drinking because manufacturers are only required to list caffeine as an ingredient on the food or drink label. The Nutrition Facts label does not specify the amount of caffeine in the product.

Coffee and caffeine consumption appears to have some health benefits. Coffee beans contain disease-ravaging antioxidants, called quinines, which become more potent after roasting. According to an American Chemical Society news release, coffee is the leading source of antioxidants in American diets, just because we drink so much of it.

This type of antioxidant, along with the magnesium found naturally in coffee, affect blood sugar levels and are thought to be responsible for the link to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Coffee also contains trigonelline, an antibacterial compound that not only gives it a wonderful aroma but may be a factor in preventing dental cavities.

Researchers are also quick to point out that caffeine is a drug, and can be abused if you use it in place of a good night’s rest or a healthy diet.

Everyone’s tolerance for coffee is different. Most people can tolerate two cups of coffee each day with no problem. But more than that may cause nervousness, rapid heartbeat, palpitations, sleeplessness, and irritability. It can even lead to health problems such as osteoporosis or high blood pressure. If you skip your usual morning cup, you can experience a caffeine withdrawal headache.

Like most things, enjoy your coffee, but in moderation.

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