Guest post written by: Sara Routhier
It’s hard to resist the aroma and flavor of coffee, especially when it’s available in so many enticing forms on virtually every street corner.
But watch your coffee intake, especially if you’re a smoker, as cigarette smoke increases the metabolism of caffeine. You may be enhancing your alertness, but you could also be reducing the effects of essential vitamins and minerals.
We’ll provide guidance on how much coffee is too much, as well as hidden sources of caffeine so that you don’t inadvertently end up with health problems that could impact you, your family, and your finances.
The Importance of Life Insurance and Your Overall Health
For so many, drinking coffee is a part of our lifestyle and overall well being. As long as we’re discussing the ways that caffeine consumption can impact your lifestyle – good and bad – it’s also important to think about the ways you need to protect your lifestyle. That includes life insurance.
Life insurance is important for everyone, no matter what age, to help protect your family’s finances in case something happens to you.
If you are a smoker, you can get life insurance with no medical exam. Life insurance for smokers is double that of non-smokers because of the connection between smoking and many health conditions. One company offers life insurance with no medical exam, but there are limits on that coverage amount.
Even if you are a smoker, it’s never too late to quit. You can contact your life insurance company if you quit smoking to get reduced premium rates as a non-smoker. Smoking can increase the metabolism of caffeine and affect vitamin and mineral absorption, but quitting has many health benefits.
Your age, weight, and medical history can all affect life insurance rates. It’s important to compare life insurance rates online to find the most affordable coverage available to you.
The Pros of Coffee and Caffeine
Many of us reach for that morning or afternoon cup of coffee for the caffeine boost it provides.
Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, which means it increases your heart rate and makes you feel more alert.
Caffeine also helps delay fatigue. It can improve focus and concentration. When we hit a mid-morning or mid-afternoon slump, that may be when we reach for a cup of coffee or other caffeinated beverage.
Moderate coffee consumption is associated with a reduced risk for many chronic diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and early death. Caffeine can also help reduce the sensation of pain, which is why it’s used in over-the-counter pain medications.
Caffeine is also a commonly used and safe sports nutrition supplement, contrary to the belief that it’s a dangerous supplement. It can delay fatigue, improve focus, and enhance concentration during exercise or sports. Caffeine is a common ingredient in many pre-workout formulas.
Coffee is also a source of many antioxidants. These antioxidants help protect your cells from damage from free radicals and lessen inflammation in the body.
The Cons of Coffee and Caffeine
While caffeine has many pros, there are also some side effects of caffeine. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine, which means they may need to limit their caffeine consumption.
One of the biggest cons associated with caffeine is that it is a diuretic, which means it increases water loss by the body. Too much fluid loss could lead to dehydration.
While caffeine is a diuretic, if you are consuming it in a drink like coffee, you actually end up increasing the amount of fluid you consume. It does cause some fluid loss, but the amount in your drink helps offset that fluid loss.
Caffeine can interfere with the absorption of some vitamins and minerals. It may affect levels of iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, vitamin C, and some of the B-complex vitamins. The absorption seems to be more related to individuals that consume higher than moderate levels of caffeine.
Caffeine and coffee are not the cause of most nutrient deficiencies. The biggest problem is the lack of a healthy diet and overconsumption of processed, packaged, and junk foods. But it would be a better idea to take your multivitamin at a different time than your morning cup of coffee.
Drinking coffee or caffeine too late in the day can affect sleep. It can take up to five or six hours for caffeine to be excreted from the body, which is why an afternoon cup of coffee can affect nighttime sleep habits. This could result in upset sleep schedules and potentially dangerous situations such as falling asleep at the wheel.
Women who want to become pregnant, women who are pregnant, or women who are breastfeeding should moderate their caffeine consumption. They do not have to avoid caffeine entirely but should limit consumption to less than 200 mg daily or no more than one or two cups of coffee daily.
Caffeine can cause withdrawal symptoms if there is a sudden stoppage of caffeine. Gradual decreases in caffeine help prevent withdrawal symptoms.
Another con of many coffee drinks is the added sugar and calories found in many of these drinks. This is also true of many energy drinks, which are high in added sugar and caffeine.
Some of these beverages can add an extra 500 calories and five or more teaspoons of added sugar. They also don’t help you feel full because they are liquids.
Overconsumption of these drinks can lead to weight gain or increase the risk for chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes. It’s best to limit sugary coffee drinks and focus on plain coffee with low-fat milk, sugar-free syrup, or small amounts of creamer.
Coffee and Caffeine Recommendations
The amount of caffeine in coffee varies greatly, but one cup of coffee has between 60 mg to 120 mg of caffeine. A general estimate for coffee is 100 mg of caffeine per cup of coffee.
Soda has between 30 to 60 mg of caffeine per 12 oz serving. Green tea has similar amounts, about 30 to 50 mg per cup, whereas tea has about 20 to 90 mg of caffeine per cup. Energy drinks can have up to 150 mg of caffeine per cup.
Moderate consumption of caffeine is the level associated with health benefits. Moderate consumption is considered to be around 300 mg of caffeine, which amounts to about three cups of coffee daily. Heavy caffeine intake may be associated with a few negative health effects, so it’s best to stay in the moderate consumption range.
Sources of Caffeine
The main sources of caffeine in our diet come from coffee, soda, tea, energy drinks, and a few food items. Some medications or supplements may also have caffeine as an active ingredient.
Decaffeinated coffee and tea have small amounts of caffeine, around 5 to 7 mg of caffeine per serving.
There are a few lesser-known sources of caffeine in our diet. Dark chocolate and milk chocolate are two foods that have caffeine. Milk chocolate has about 10 mg of caffeine per serving, whereas dark chocolate has about 12 mg of caffeine per serving.
Over-the-counter pain medications may also have caffeine. Weight-loss supplements typically have high amounts of caffeine, so make sure to read the labels on any medications or supplements to see the caffeine amount.
What’s the bottom line on coffee and caffeine?
While coffee and caffeine have both pros and cons, moderate caffeine intake does have many health benefits. One of the cons is that it can affect the absorption of vitamins and minerals, but eating a healthy and varied diet will help you get all the nutrients for good health.
Melissa Morris writes and researches for the life insurance comparison site, LifeInsurancePost.com. She is a university professor of nutrition and a certified sports nutritionist.
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