Learn more about how caffeine works

According to the FDA, ninety percent of people in the world use caffeine. In the United States, eighty percent of adults consume the drug every day. Forms of the world’s most popular drug range from energy drinks to caffeinated gum. On average an adult has 200 mg per day, the same amount that’s in two five-ounce cups of coffee or four sodas.

how does caffeine work

Coffee is consumed by the majority of Americans. It happens to block a receptor that calms us down. (Flickr / Creative Commons / Fil.Al)

Actually, the federal committee that helps write the Dietary Guidelines for Americans weighed in on how much coffee is healthy. They determined that up to five cups per day can be part of a healthy lifestyle. But these guidelines can vary based on who you talk to.

So, what does caffeine do to your body to give you that extra jolt?

When it enters the body, it separates into three different but very similar molecules. When metabolized in the liver, enzymes chisel off one of three methyl groups. Caffeine breaks down into three different metabolites with three different effects on the body.

The three metabolites include theobromine, paraxanthine, and theophylline. The caffeine binds to the adenosine receptors. Adenosine slows down nerve activities in our brains, which signals to the body it’s time to calm down and take a nap. It is also responsible for regulating neurotransmitters in the brain like dopamine.

Caffeine and adenosine are similar in structure, which is why they bind so easily. But caffeine blocks adenosine, which cues us to settle down and take a nap. Once caffeine is activated, it increases neurotransmitter activity, such as dopamine. This produces heightened brain activity.

Then the three metabolites have their own certain functions. Theobromine increases flow of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Paraxanthine enhances the body’s athletic performance by increasing the rate of fat breakdown to fuel muscle activity. Theophylline increases the rate of the heart and the ability one has to concentrate. These effects come together to produce a state of wakefulness.

However, at higher levels, caffeine can cause jitters, anxiety, and overall discomfort.


Gordon Johnson

Attorney Gordon Johnson is one of the nations leading brain injury advocates. He is Past-Chair of the TBILG, a national group of more than 150 brain injury advocates. He has spoken at numerous brain injury seminars and is the author of some of the most read brain injury web pages on the internet.

More Posts - Website - 800-992-9447

TwitterFacebookLinkedInGoogle Plus