Caffeine has been an integral part of our society. Over 85% of Americans consume caffeine daily with the average cup of coffee. Some people cannot even function well without caffeine shots in the morning.
It has been known that coffee is a productive substance that stimulates the brain to stay awake and alert, helping us to accomplish tasks that require mental focus. We even invented "coffee break" to encourage employees and business people to consume them.
There's no denying that many people are becoming more and more dependent on caffeine to accomplish critical day-to-day activities, but this could be problematic over time due to the increasing caffeine tolerance and associated disadvantages.
Despite its known benefits, it is vital to ask whether long-term caffeine consumption is beneficial or detrimental to our health and productivity.
The truth about caffeine
Just because it is widely used, you shouldn't forget that caffeine is still a mild psychoactive drug that influences your brain function. It works by interfering with the effect of a neuromodulator known as adenosine.
Throughout the day, the Adenosine level rises as we accumulate fatigue and spend more time awake. Adenosine is responsible for signaling to the brain that it is time to rest and sleep to regain energy.
Caffeine prevents this process by hijacking the receptors so that adenosine cannot perform its function, causing us to stay awake and alert. As the caffeine wears off, the built-up adenosine will simultaneously bind to the receptors resulting in what we call a "caffeine crash," and we end up being more tired than before.
Essentially, caffeine doesn't give you energy but instead creates an illusion of it and delays the body's natural process to rest and recover. More importantly, as we consume caffeine daily, our tolerance increases over time, resulting in a greater need for more caffeine to achieve the same effects.
Disadvantages of being dependent on caffeine
Caffeine increases the need for urination and can result in significant fluid loss and depletion of vital nutrients in the body. In addition, frequent caffeine intake can interfere with the absorption of vitamin B6, calcium, iron, magnesium, and other B vitamins.
Research also shows that a higher level of caffeine in the body is linked with low vitamin D levels and reduces the expression of vitamin D receptors, dramatically increasing the risk for osteoporosis. [1,2]
Further research published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has concluded that consuming a cup of coffee or tea while eating a hamburger can reduce iron absorption by at least 39% to 64%. 
Too much caffeine intake can leave a lasting mark on your smile due to its acidity. In addition, drinking a cup of coffee each day may erode the enamel of your teeth, causing them to become thinner and prone to damage. This is especially true if it takes hours before you brush your teeth again after drinking coffee or caffeine-rich products.
One study on 6,200 Germans found that strong coffee consumption is significantly linked to the development of Periodontitis- a serious gum infection that may lead to tooth loss. 
If you are having difficulty falling asleep due to insomnia or suffering from sleep disturbances, gradually decreasing your caffeine consumption might be a good idea.
Sleep researchers found that caffeine can interfere with the human circadian rhythm by disrupting how melatonin is released in the brain. This results in a decrease in the total amount and quality of sleep. [5,6]
Negative mood and motivation
Regular coffee consumption can result in mood fluctuations, especially if you become dependent on it.
Yes, caffeine improves mood by delaying the reabsorption of dopamine in the brain, which gives feelings of satisfaction and general motivation to accomplish things. Still, long-term dependency on caffeine can result in adaptation and increased tolerance, making it harder for you to get the same results and needing to take an even more dose of caffeine to be stimulated.
Caffeine has been known to increase stress hormones such as cortisol in the body, and prolonged elevated cortisol levels are associated with anxiety and other stress-related disorders.
Based on a 2021 study of 144 students at Florida State University, caffeine is strongly associated with depressive symptoms and higher anxiety levels among college students. 
Limit caffeine intake when dealing with stressful situations as it may further exacerbate your stress levels, making you unproductive and affecting the quality of your work.
Headache or Migraine
Caffeine can affect blood flow by dilating and constricting the blood vessels. Interestingly, this effect depends on each person. Some may experience blood vessel dilation resulting in more blood flowing in the brain, and some will experience blood vessel constriction, which decreases the supply of oxygen-rich blood in the brain, causing headaches.
Furthermore, a study shows that drinking too much coffee triggers migraines and results in unproductive days. Therefore, it is recommended that migraine sufferers limit their caffeine consumption to 200mg daily. 
Paraxanthine: A new nootropic
Once caffeine gets metabolized in the liver, it produces a by-product known as paraxanthine. Researchers have found that paraxanthine is the main compound that produces critical beneficial effects of caffeine, such as a boost in motivation, alertness, and mental sharpness but without the drawbacks.
Paraxanthine has been found to have lower toxicity and a lesser impact on anxiety than caffeine. Furthermore, this compound doesn't induce nausea, diarrhea, increased heart rate, or abnormal heart rhythm, which are the main drawbacks of caffeine.
In a study conducted by A&M University at Texas involving 13 participants, the researchers found that paraxanthine supplementation improved reaction time, thought accuracy, reasoning, attention, and executive control after 6 hours of administration.
This suggests that paraxanthine could be a potent nootropic and a way to harness the major benefits associated with caffeine intake without its side effects.
Take caffeine in moderation
Most experts agree that up to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily are the safe dose for healthy adults. This is equivalent to 4 to 5 cups of coffee. It is important to keep caffeine intake in moderation and prevent dependency.
To avoid building tolerance to caffeine, you can cycle your intake by completely cutting out caffeine in your diet for 2 to 8 weeks, depending on your consumption. This will also allow you to experience the full effect of caffeine as if you are trying it again for the first time.
Caffeine-rich products, especially coffee, have a massive role in shaping our society as we know it today. However, too much caffeine can also harm our physical and mental health. This is why it is vital to take caffeine in moderation and be aware of its benefits and disadvantages.
- Rapuri, P. B., Gallagher, J. C., Kinyamu, H. K., & Ryschon, K. L. (2001). Caffeine intake increases the rate of bone loss in elderly women and interacts with vitamin D receptor genotypes. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 74(5), 694–700. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/74.5.694
- Rapuri, P. B., Gallagher, J. C., & Nawaz, Z. (2007). Caffeine decreases vitamin D receptor protein expression and 1,25(OH)2D3 stimulated alkaline phosphatase activity in human osteoblast cells. The Journal of steroid biochemistry and molecular biology, 103(3-5), 368–371. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsbmb.2006.12.037
- Morck, T. A., Lynch, S. R., & Cook, J. D. (1983). Inhibition of food iron absorption by coffee. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 37(3), 416–420. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/37.3.416
- Struppek, J., Walther, C., Bunte, K., Zyriax, B. C., Wenzel, J. P., Senftinger, J., Nikorowitsch, J., Heydecke, G., Seedorf, U., Beikler, T., Borof, K., Mayer, C., & Aarabi, G. (2021). The association between coffee consumption and periodontitis: a cross-sectional study of a northern German population. Clinical Oral Investigations, 26(3), 2421–2427. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00784-021-04208-9
- Burke, T. M., Markwald, R. R., McHill, A. W., Chinoy, E. D., Snider, J. A., Bessman, S. C., Jung, C. M., O’Neill, J. S., & Wright, K. P. (2015). Effects of caffeine on the human circadian clock in vivo and in vitro. Science Translational Medicine, 7(305). https://doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aac5125
- Shilo, L., Sabbah, H., Hadari, R., Kovatz, S., Weinberg, U., Dolev, S., Dagan, Y., & Shenkman, L. (2002). The effects of coffee consumption on sleep and melatonin secretion. Sleep medicine, 3(3), 271–273. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1389-9457(02)00015-1
- Bertasi, R. A. O., Humeda, Y., Bertasi, T. G. O., Zins, Z., Kimsey, J., & Pujalte, G. (2021). Caffeine Intake and Mental Health in College Students. Cureus, 13(4), e14313. https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.14313
- Nowaczewska, M., Wiciński, M., & Kaźmierczak, W. (2020). The Ambiguous Role of Caffeine in Migraine Headache: From Trigger to Treatment. Nutrients, 12(8), 2259. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12082259
- Yoo, C., Xing, D., Gonzalez, D., Jenkins, V., Nottingham, K., Dickerson, B., Leonard, M., Ko, J., Faries, M., Kephart, W., Purpura, M., Jäger, R., Wells, S. D., Sowinski, R., Rasmussen, C. J., & Kreider, R. B. (2021). Acute Paraxanthine Ingestion Improves Cognition and Short-Term Memory and Helps Sustain Attention in a Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial. Nutrients, 13(11), 3980. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13113980
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