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Effects Of Caffeine On Human Health

1269 words - 5 pages

Caffeine is one of the most well-known orally consumed drug around the world. In the 1820s, a German chemist named Friedrich Ferdinand Runge first discovered caffeine by extracting it from coffee [6]. Coffee and tea are leading sources of caffeine in the adult diet whereas caffeinated soft drinks are leading sources of caffeine in the diet of children in North America [7]. The per capita consumption level of caffeine for consumers of all ages is approximately 120mg/day [4]. The purpose of this investigation is to conclude whether the regular consumption of caffeine is beneficial to human health.
Caffeine is an alkaloid which is a pharmacologically active substance consumed by many worldwide [7]. This chemical acts as a Central Nervous System (CNS) stimulant which suppresses drowsiness and promotes alertness. It is a naturally occurring substance commonly found in tea leaves, coffee beans, cocoa beans, cola nuts and other plants species [7]. Today, caffeine plays an essential role of being necessary ingredient in beverages like coffee, soft drinks, tea, energy drinks and also in foods like chocolate. The level of caffeine composition in foods and drinks primarily depends on the plant variety of which it derives from, the serving size, brand and the brewing method.
Table1 : The table above shows the general caffeine composition in certain foods and beverages.
Caffeine is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract into the bloodstream and it reaches its maximum concentration in the blood within 1 to 1.5 hours following ingestion [7]. The effect of caffeine on the body is largely due to the binding of it to the adenosine receptor. Adenosine is a central nervous system neuromodulator that has specific receptors [3]. Neural activity impedes which results in somnolence when adenosine binds to its receptors. It also causes dilation of blood vessels in the brain which ensures good oxygenation during sleep. To a nerve cell, caffeine is analogous to adenosine. Thus, the caffeine binds to the adenosine receptor and acts as adenosine-receptor antagonist. Instead of slowing down the activity of nerve cells, the presence of caffeine on the receptors would speed up the neural activity. The common effect of this reaction would be the constriction of vessels in the brain.
Figure 1: The figure above illustrates the binding of caffeine with adenosine receptor .
Since the adenosine receptor is being blocked by caffeine, it has caused a sudden neuron firing in the brain and the pituitary gland sees this as an occurrence of an emergency. The gland releases hormones which indicate the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline [1]. Adrenaline is a “flight or fight” hormone which results in the increase of heart rate, dilation of pupils and many other effects. Overall, the secretion of this hormone has the ability to heighten energy and attentiveness. Besides that, similar to drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine, the consumption of caffeine increases the production of...

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