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Caffeine — Love It or Leave It?

Do you love the boost you get from your favorite beverage, but not sure it’s good for you? Find out if you should caffeinate or not.

For most people, caffeine’s effects can be felt about 15 minutes after consumption with blood levels peaking about one hour later, staying at this level for several hours. Six hours after consuming caffeine, half of it remains in your body — taking up to 10 hours to completely clear caffeine from your bloodstream.

The caffeine amounts in food and drink vary. For coffee and tea, the amount of caffeine per cup depends on the brand, the type of beans or leaves used, how it is prepared and how long it steeps. Coffee can have just 2 milligrams of caffeine (decaf coffee) per cup, and as much as 200 milligrams per cup. Tea ranges from 9 to 110 milligrams. Twelve ounces of soda usually has 30 to 60 milligrams, and eight ounces of an energy drink has between 50 and 160.

Good news for coffee drinkers, according to Physician Assistant Bryan Miller from Samaritan Heart Center: medical journals tout the antioxidant benefits of coffee. Recent studies found that female coffee drinkers are less likely to die from coronary artery disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and kidney disease.

So, drink to your heart’s content? Not exactly. Up to 400 milligrams of caffeine appears to be safe for most healthy adults. Excessive caffeine, however, can cause jitters, increase heart rate, raise blood pressure, cause anxiety, headaches, irritability and make falling asleep difficult. Remember too, sugar‑laden drinks increase blood sugar, inflammation and are generally to be avoided.

If you chose to go decaf but still enjoy your coffee or tea, purchase those using Swiss water caffeine extraction. This eliminates exposure to chemicals used in the typical decaffeination process.

Do you really need caffeine? Try tapering off slowly and see how your body responds. You may just like the way you feel.