16 March 2011- Caffeine is one of a group of naturally occurring stimulants (methylxanthine, or xanthine) which is found in the leaves, seeds, or fruit of numerous plants around the world. It is also one of the world's most widely used drugs used mostly for preparing "Stay awake pills." Natural caffeine is found in coffee and tea. It is also used as food additive for making energy drinks, colas and some other food items. To be precise, caffeine food additive is used in soft drinks made from Kola nuts and other carbonated drinks, chocolates, and energy drinks.
The amount of caffeine food additive in a product differs from brand to brand. However, FDA has listed the amount of caffeine present in its fact sheet on caffeine
There has been much debate about the health effects of caffeine. Although most of the people worldwide consume caffeine in their tea or coffee daily, exactly how caffeine affects health of an individual depends upon many factors- how much caffeine is ingested, whether it is consumed by man or woman, height, weight, and age of the caffeine consumer, and whether one is pregnant or smokes. These all factors decide caffeine health effects because some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than others. Caffeine is converted by the liver into substances that are excreted in the urine. Those who have lower tolerance for caffeine have reported such health issues as cardiovascular problems, emotional disturbances, blood sugar swings, gastrointestinal problems, nutritional deficiencies, urinary and prostate problems in men, fibrocystic breast disease, PMS, osteoporosis, infertility problems, miscarriage, low birth weight infants, and menopausal problems in women.
It is now an accepted fact that small amounts of caffeine may increase your mental response time. However, caffeine in large amounts may also affect health adversely. It is generally agreed that up to 300 mg of caffeine per day is safe. The amount which is considered just right for caffeine safety can be had from three cups of coffee. So, whatever you take- coffee, tea, soft drink or chocolate- manage their amount and quantity in such a way that not more than 300 mg of caffeine goes into your body in a day!
Like many other harmful food additives, there is a group of people who must avoid caffeine such as pregnant women and children!