How much caffeine do we actually consume in America? When calculating your daily amount of caffeine consumption, you’ll probably focus on coffee as the main source. However, caffeine can be found in numerous other soft drinks and foods, so your daily dose of caffeine may be much higher than you think. In this sense, it's a bit like salt. According to the aforementioned study, the average total amount of caffeine is approximately 76g/person/day. However, in certain countries, such as the United States, the dose may exceed 200g. In Sweden and Finland, on the other hand, caffeine seems to be a necessity since studies show that they consume more than 400mg of caffeine a day! What can we say, it’s cold in Finland!
Dopamine & Adenosine
However, a far more intriguing topic than the amount of the caffeine consumed are its effects on the brain and its dominant hormones. Keeping in mind that caffeine is a psychostimulant, there are studies comparing the impact of caffeine to those of cocaine and amphetamine. However, as we’ve already mentioned, the main difference lies in their dopamine-releasing activity. Caffeine does not have as strong of a dopamine-releasing effect, a study on caffeine effects states. Furthermore, the study goes on to explain that stimulants such as cocaine depend on dopamine release, while caffeine affects adenosine receptors. Nevertheless, caffeine still affects dopamine production to a degree, and as dopamine is known as the “happy hormone”, that explains the pleasant feeling associated with a cup of coffee.
Adenosine is a neurotransmitter in the brain, the role of which is to manage the feeling of sleepiness throughout the day. As it is released, adenosine binds to the cell receptors, slowing down nerve activity. What happens when we consume caffeine is that nerve cells mistake it for adenosine, since caffeine has been found to bind to adenosine receptors. In simpler terms, nerve cells can no longer recognize adenosine once caffeine takes its place.
Furthermore, the effect of caffeine on the pituitary gland promotes the release of adrenaline, also known as the “fight or flight” hormone - hence the well-known effects of coffee. The release of adrenaline stands behind all the effects of coffee, including muscle tightening, faster heart beating, dilated pupils, and higher blood pressure. These reactions further explain the arousement and excitement that a cup of strong coffee can trigger.
Health Benefits of Coffee
Energy & Performance