Caffeine is a drug in every sense of the word. This bitter-tasting stimulant is mildly addictive and comes replete with a gamut of side effects. It’s helpful when you learn for exams or doing an office job. If you’re used to having one or two cups of coffee on a daily basis, be warned that an abrupt stop to your caffeine regimen can result in an onslaught of withdrawal symptoms, including (but not limited to) headaches, depression, and anxiety.

Caffeine’s Sources
Caffeine dosage varies depending on its source. Some of the most popular sources of caffeine include coffee beans, tea leaves, energy drinks, cacao beans (chocolate) and sodas. There are also ingredients that contain caffeine themselves, such as guarana, kola nut, jerboa mate, chocolate and certain medications.

Benefits of Caffeine
Many of us are socialized to think that our mornings would not be complete without sipping on a cup of coffee while reading the latest front-page headlines or checking up on the latest oil scam in the business section. In addition to satisfying this preconceived image of an attentive business aspirant, there also exists evidence that suggests there may be health benefits attributed to caffeine intake. Some people have claimed that it relaxes their nerves or when consumed as coffee, aids their digestion of certain foods.

Caffeine has also been found to have favorable diuretic properties. Studies by reputable organizations such as the National Institutes of Health have revealed that caffeine, with a chemical structure similar to the uric acid that’s found in relatively high concentrations in the blood, also has antioxidant properties, which aids in DNA sustainability and the prevention of cell damage. Antioxidants are essential ingredients in our daily dietary regimens and have been known to successfully combat cancers and other degenerative conditions. Researchers have discovered evidence that these antioxidant properties have a remarkable effect on the prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease and heart disease.

Caffeine’s Side Effects Once inside your system, caffeine acts as a stimulant on the brain, much in the same way that amphetamines do. Excessive caffeine can, in some cases, cause rapid heartbeat, nausea, tremors, and difficulty sleeping. High blood pressure, heart disease, and ulcers have been linked to caffeine use, and some studies have shown that high doses cause bone loss in older women. There is an increasing number of deaths linked to energy drink consumption.

Children and people with relatively low body weights should closely monitor their consumption of these beverages due to the high concentration of caffeine found in many of these drinks. The interaction of caffeine with certain recreational or prescription drugs and alcohol can have harmful effects on the body as well. Pregnant women and women who are nursing should be extremely careful about how much caffeine they consume. Although the effects of caffeine surely vary from person to person, it’s always best to be mindful of how the popular stimulant may be affecting your health.