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The Nation’s Health
Caffeine: Don’t let your
pick-me-up drag you down
By Natalie McGill
at a cof ee house can contain 300 mil igrams or
more of caf eine, he says. And that’s on top of
or more of caf eine per day, but consuming
thing in common to keep you coming back for
concerns such as heart issues, Meredith says.
Other side ef ects can include elevated blood
Caf eine is a substance that can be found in
pressure, dehydration, dizziness and trouble
drinks such as soda, cof ee and tea or in foods
sleeping, according to the U.S. Food and Drug
Many adults who consume caffeine
such as chocolate. It stimulates your central
regularly are unaware of the potential
“Certain individuals — especial y children,
negative side effects.
the elderly, people with heart conditions,
Gradual y reducing your need for caf eine
is bet er than bringing your consumption to a
grinding halt. Stopping abruptly may worsen
Keep caffeine away from kids
aimed at kids, it’s best to keep it out of their
diets. Pediatricians say that kids younger
than 12 shouldn’t have caf eine in their diets
withdrawal symptoms when they don’t have
caf eine af ects them, says Steven Meredith,
caf eine at an early age, Meredith says.
PhD, a postdoctoral research fel ow at the
“exact opposite of the direct ef ects of caf eine,”
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine’s
lead to slower brain development in teens,
Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit.
“So if caf eine makes you feel energized and
alert, then caf eine withdrawal may make you
usual y contains 40 mil igrams of caf eine,
feel tired or foggy,” he says. “And consciously
only a greater number of caf eine-containing
while a 16-ounce energy drink could contain
or not, many people try to relieve or avoid the
products, but some of these products contain
Photos courtesy iStockphoto: Cofee photo by Carlos Alvarez
160 mil igrams or more. Cups of cof ee bought
withdrawal symptoms by just consuming more
exposed to when we were children,” Meredith
says. “A caf einated drink might contain three
Recognizing the signs of a habit
Tips for cutting back on caffeine
or more times the amount of caf eine that’s
If you need more caffeine to feel the same
If you think you consume too much caf eine
contained in the serving size of soda.”
way you used to with a smaller dose, such as
and that the best route is stop cold turkey, think
needing two cups of coffee to wake you up
instead of one, that can be a sign that you’re
developing a habit. If so, you may experience
your need for caf eine is to wean yourself of
withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches,
of it. If you usual y have three caf eine drinks
when skipping caffeine.
each day, cut back to two, he recommends.
Avoid drinking caf eine in the afternoon or the
evening, because that could af ect your sleep.
Regular exercise and a healthy diet can also
help you reduce your need for caf eine.
“If you brew your own cof ee, or if you buy
it from a cof ee house, make it 75 percent
regular and 25 percent decaf during the first
week of your quit at empt, and then slowly kind
>> For more on caffeine, visit www.nlm.
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