The Long-Term Side Effects Of Caffeine

For many of us, it's hard to imagine our mornings without a mug of our favorite coffee. Seven out of ten people drink coffee weekly in the U.S., while 62% drink it every day. The average American consumer of coffee in the U.S. drinks at least three cups daily (via National Coffee Association).

So what makes caffeine so popular? It's the effect it has on us! Caffeine acts as a stimulant and blocks the drowsiness-causing neurotransmitter called adenosine (via How Stuff Works). It does so by binding itself to the adenosine receptors, which results in nerve cell stimulation. The stimulation of the nerve cells makes the pituitary gland release hormones. These hormones stimulate our adrenal glands to produce adrenaline, which opens up the body's air passage and increases oxygen concentration in our blood. An increased oxygen level helps us feel focused and resolved.

But what's the cost of that rush that we seek every morning — does caffeine have any long-term side effects on our body and mind? Are these side effects worth the kick that we get from caffeine? Here's more!

Overconsumption of caffeine may have serious long-term side effects

Coffee needs to be consumed in moderation to avoid associated side effects. Consuming more than four cups of coffee — which can be classified as heavy caffeine use — may eventually lead to anxiety, trouble sleeping, ulcers, and other health complications (via Alcohol and Drug Foundation). Additionally, experts stress that coffee lovers will also want to avoid excessive drinking of coffee long-term as it may lead to poor appetite, nausea, irregular heart rhythm, tremors, and even seizures. Some other long-term side effects of caffeine include diarrhea, irritability, and headaches. For post-menopausal women, drinking excessive coffee could also result in osteoporosis, where bones become fragile from tissue loss (via National Osteoporosis Foundation).

So how much coffee is fine for regular consumption? Per the Mayo Clinic, consuming up to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily should be okay for the average adult, which is roughly the caffeine present in a couple of energy drinks. Pushing the body's caffeine tolerance beyond this point might lead to complications. Coffee drinkers should also be aware of coffee's interaction with other drugs they may be taking.

Coffee usage has been rising steadily. From 2012, the world's coffee consumption has increased from around 146.98 million bags (one bag holds 60 kg of coffee) to roughly 166.63 million bags in recent years (via Statista). Considering caffeine's addictive nature, it is best to be aware of the body's tolerance and avoid coffee's long-term side effects.