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Monday, January 12, 2009

Coffee and Caffeine

The coffee I drink makes me edgy and focused for a few hours, keeps me awake at night, and interferes with the functioning of melatonin as a sleep aid. There is some suggestion that caffeine is processed in the liver by the same chromosome system as melatonin and perhaps this explains the effect.1 It is also known that caffeine coats the adenosine receptors in the brain, which leads to increased alertness.2 Caffeine also increases dopamine in the brain, a feel-good neurotransmitter; but going off caffeine drags you down and causes headaches and withdrawal symptoms, which may account for why many people are addicted to caffeine. The fact that caffeine increases dopamine makes it similar to cocaine, although cocaine's effect is more pronounced.3 Despite the many negatives, there are some advantages of coffee and caffeine, although the benefits are perhaps outweighed by the risk of vascular damage and other ills.4

References
  1. 2003. "Effects of caffeine intake on the pharmacokinetics of melatonin, a probe drug for CYP1A2 activity." Sebastian Härtter, Anna Nordmark, Dirk-Matthias Rose, Leif Bertilsson, Gunnel Tybring, and Kari Laine. Br J Clin Pharmacol. December; 56(6): 679–682. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2125.2003.01933.x. Available online at www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1884289. Accessed Jan 12, 2009.
  2. "Caffeine and Adenosine." Charles W. Bryant. http://health.howstuffworks.com/caffeine3.htm. Accessed Jan 12, 2009.
  3. "Caffeine and Dopamine." Charles W. Bryant. http://health.howstuffworks.com/caffeine4.htm. Accessed Jan 12, 2009.
  4. "Health Benefits of Caffeine." Charles W. Bryant. http://health.howstuffworks.com/caffeine5.htm. Accessed Jan 12, 2009.

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