Caffeine ... Exposed!

ByABC News
March 28, 2007, 6:12 PM

March 29, 2007— -- Finally, we are receiving more information on labels from soda makers. What a great thing to have another tool that allows us to be aware and in control of how much caffeine we take into our bodies.

But even now that we can see how much of it we are getting, many of us don't know anything about the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to caffeine. Here is quick breakdown.

First, caffeine is not just found in coffee; it can be found as well in sodas or in chocolate. Also, don't forget they can be found as well in those "pick-you-up" energy drinks and over-the-counter medicine.

The problem is not that you consume caffeine, but rather the amount you consume and your reaction to it.

The good thing about caffeine is that it is a central nervous system stimulant. It increases your basic metabolic rate, which helps you burn more calories (although exercise is still more effective). It temporarily increases your mental clarity, as well as your muscular coordination for activities like typing.

If you are one of many individuals dealing with breathing problems, you should probably also know that caffeine can open up air passages and help to increase respiration rates.

If you have low blood pressure, caffeine can also be a simple way to give it a modest boost. Overall, a dosage of 50 to 100mg of caffeine can have a stimulating effect on your system and increase your daily functions in life.

However, not all of the news is good.

If taken in excess, caffeine can be addictive in a way; to receive the same jolt you get when you first start taking it, you need to gradually increase your dose. Studies have shown that tiredness introduced by caffeine withdrawal can be fixed by additional caffeine intake.

So, you should ask yourself: When you are tired and reaching for your caffeine fix, are you giving yourself energy, or are you managing the withdrawal effect? Studies have shown that the so-called pick-me-up effect is often actually a managing of withdrawal effects springing from addiction to caffeine.