Update Caffeine Effects

The information and studies on the effects of caffeine keep coming.

According to a January 13, 2014 article in the Washington Post, caffeine helps people remember fine distinctions between similar things at least up to 24 hours after it is consumed. Until now, caffeine’s effects on long-term memory had not been examined in detail.

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There’s an abundance of articles regarding the consumption of caffeine with as many saying it’s good for you as bad. Both the pros and cons won scoring 50 percent. It’s had a neutral effect. People are still consuming caffeine at the same rate.

According to the FDA, citing a December 2012 report they state, “A new caffeine report shows no measurable change in consumption trends of the U.S. population. The “Caffeine Intake by the U.S. Population” report prepared for FDA presents an in-depth analysis of the U.S. population’s consumption of caffeine between 2003 and 2008.

It focuses on different dietary sources of caffeine and consumption levels across various age groups, including children ages 2 -13, teenagers 14 – 21 by gender, and women of childbearing age (16 – 45). During this time, the average amount of caffeine consumed has remained constant at approximately 300 milligrams (mg) per person per day. The major food sources of caffeine are coffee, soft drinks and tea. Teenagers and young adults consumed roughly one-third the amount of caffeine as adults, or about 100 mg per day, and “energy drinks” contributed only a small portion of caffeine consumed by teenagers.”

Newer studies do merit attention however regarding how caffeine affects the young in general and pregnant women in particular.

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At the educational website livescience.com, on June 16, 2014, contributing writer Martta Kelly explained, “After puberty, gender differences in kids’ reactions to drinking caffeine begin to emerge, according to a new study.

In the study, researchers examined 96 children, looking at their heart rates and blood pressure before and after giving them a caffeinated beverage or a placebo during six visits to the laboratory. The children, who ranged in age from 8 to 17, also completed a questionnaire about their caffeine use.

“All of the children in the study showed a decrease in heart rate and an increase in blood pressure after consuming caffeine,” said Jennifer L. Temple, an associate professor at the University of Buffalo and lead author of the study. “After puberty, however, caffeine was found to affect boys and girls differently, with boys having a greater response to caffeine than girls.”

Ms. Temple’s past research on the subject conducted in 2010 showed that caffeine increases blood pressure while decreasing heart rate in children, teens and adults. In that study, adolescent boys ages 12 to 17 who consumed caffeine had a greater increase in blood pressure than did girls in the same age range.

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There is a greater concern regarding caffeine use if a woman is consuming large quantities while pregnant. The respected source americanpregnancy.org informs, “Because caffeine is a stimulant, it increases your blood pressure and heart rate, both of which are not recommended during pregnancy. Caffeine also increases the frequency of urination. This causes reduction in your body fluid levels and can lead to dehydration.

Although you may be able to handle the amounts of caffeine you feed your body, your baby cannot. Your baby’s metabolism is still maturing and cannot fully metabolize the caffeine. Any amount of caffeine can also cause changes in your baby’s sleep pattern or normal movement pattern in the later stages of pregnancy. Remember, caffeine is a stimulant and can keep both you and your baby awake.

Caffeine is not only found in coffee but also in tea, soda, chocolate, and even some over-the-counter medications that relieve headaches. Be aware of what you consume.”

The article then goes on to separate fact from fiction. Here are a few of their clarifications.

Statement: Caffeine causes birth defects in humans.

Facts: Numerous studies on animals have shown that caffeine can cause birth defects, premature labor, preterm delivery, reduced fertility, and increase the risk of low-birth weight offspring and other reproductive problems. There have not been any conclusive studies done on humans though. It is still better to play it safe when it comes to inconclusive studies.

Statement: Caffeine causes infertility.

Facts: Some studies have shown a link between high levels of caffeine consumption and delayed conception.

Statement: Caffeine causes miscarriages.

Facts: In 2008, two studies on the effects of caffeine related to miscarriage showed significantly different outcomes. In one study released by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology,

It was found that women, who consume 200mg or more of caffeine daily, are twice as likely to have a miscarriage as those who do not consume any caffeine.  In another study released by Epidemiology, there was no increased risk in women who drank a minimal amount of coffee daily (between 200-350mg per day.)

Due to conflicting conclusions from numerous studies, the March of Dimes states that until more conclusive studies are done, pregnant women should limit caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day. This is equal to about one 12 oz. cup of coffee.

Statement: A pregnant woman should not consume ANY caffeine.

Facts: Experts have stated that moderate levels of caffeine have not been found to have a negative effect on pregnancy.  The definition of moderate varies anywhere from 150 mg – 300 mg a day.

To help us understand this subject through a trained eye the site mercola.com, a reliable source of health articles, optimal wellness products, medical news, and free natural newsletter from natural health expert Dr. Joseph Mercola reports in a February 2014 article, “Caffeine can significantly impact the growing fetus as it is able to freely pass through the placenta, and since caffeine does not provide any benefits to your baby, only potential hazards, I strongly recommend pregnant women avoid ALL forms of caffeine.

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In a recent Norwegian study, which included data on nearly 60,000 women, coffee and other caffeinated beverages increased the odds of delivering a low birth weight baby and/or extended the gestation period.”

At this point in time, the newer studies show that excessive consumption of caffeine can have an effect on children’s heart rate and blood pressure. The studies also conclude that caffeine use should be limited even more if a woman is pregnant.

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Sources: fda.gov, livescience.com, dailymail.co.uk, americanpregnancy.org, articles.mercola.com, fciwomenswrestling.com, foxnews.com, washingtonpost.com, photos thank you Wikimedia Commons.