For most of us, coffee is a magic drink that has the power to transform our morning and make us focused and productive. We got used to consuming large quantities of coffee or other caffeinated drinks and we rely on them whenever we feel we need extra energy. But what impact does caffeine have on our mood? And how much caffeine is it safe to consume?
How caffeine affects your brain and mood
Caffeine, with coffee as the caffeinated drink of choice, is known to improve focus and overall mental performance and to make us more alert and active. However, there are also some side effects of consuming too many caffeinated drinks.
Caffeine can increase our heartbeat and make us more anxious and irritable. Since it’s a diuretic, it can also lead to frequent urination and dehydration. Furthermore, if we are used to consuming big quantities of caffeine, we may experience a lack of focus when we don’t have our regular caffeine dose.
That being said, recommended doses of caffeine can have a positive effect on our mood. Caffeine stimulates the production of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, dopamine, and acetylcholine, which play an important role in promoting vigilance and alertness, increasing arousal and motivation, and focusing attention. Both our brain functions and our mood can benefit from moderate doses of caffeine.
Research even linked caffeine consumption to lower risks of suicide.
How much caffeine should you have in a day?
So how much caffeine is considered safe to drink in a day? The FDA recommends consuming up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, which equals around four to five cups of brewed coffee. This recommendation is lower for adolescents and pregnant women as well as people with certain conditions or taking medication.
However, different people may metabolize caffeine in different ways which means you should be paying attention to how you feel when you drink coffee. If you notice you suffer from insomnia, you have a fast heart rate, a headache, or you feel anxious, try lowering your dose of caffeine.
Remember also that coffee is not the only source of caffeine. Many types of tea as well as chocolate and energy drinks contain caffeine. Even decaf coffee or tea can still contain small traces of caffeine that add up to your daily intake.
The bottom line is that coffee can be a great way to boost your mood, energy, and alertness. The risk is in the dosage, so make sure you only drink and eat moderate amounts of caffeinated drinks and foods and keep an eye on how you feel to adjust accordingly.