“Don’t talk to me before I’ve had my morning coffee” is a pretty relatable remark for many of us. Caffeine is such an important part of most of our daily lives that a staggering 67% of Canadians aged 18-79 drink a cup of coffee every single day. This doesn’t even include tea, soft drinks or energy drinks.
With such a high demand, both natural and synthetic caffeinated products make up a large portion of the beverage industry in North America. While they are heavily regulated by Health Canada due to their stimulatory nature, caffeinated products have a multitude of regulatory opportunities in the Canadian Natural Health Product and health food sector.
Caffeine can often get a bit of a bad rap, but used in moderation it can provide a great source of natural energy as well as other various benefits.
7 Surprising Facts about Caffeine
Caffeine protects plants
Caffeine that occurs in the leaves, fruit and seeds of some caffeine-producing plants (coffee, tea shrubs, kola/cacao trees, guarana, etc) acts as a natural pesticide and herbicide.
As a pesticide, it works by warding off insects that may attack the plant. The presence of caffeine may even be useful in pest control, as suggested by a Harvard study in the journal Science, as caffeine can be toxic to insects.
As a herbicide, caffeine that is released into the soil stops weeds from growing near the plant and stealing its nutrients.
Caffeine stays in your body for hours
Although caffeine is absorbed into the blood and tissues within 45 minutes (oftentimes taking effect in just 10 minutes after consumption), it takes much longer for the body to break it down. The half life (or time it takes to eliminate one-half from one’s body) of caffeine is about 4 hours, but it may take up 12 hours to fully eliminate the caffeine in a morning cup on coffee out of one’s body. This can take even longer for women who are pregnant.
First thing in the morning is not the best time for your caffeine fix
We are all guided by a 24-hour biological clock known as the circadian clock. When you first wake up your brain is already flooded with cortisol, a natural chemical that helps to keep you alert. So although you might feel like a coffee, you don’t actually need one. It is best to wait until cortisol levels drop later in the day.
Coke used to have as much caffeine as Red Bull
The original formulation of Coca Cola was far more caffeinated than it is today with an 8 oz serving having 80 milligrams of caffeine. This is the exact size and caffeine content of a modern red bull. So you could almost consider Coke the “original energy drink”.
It has good-for-you vitamins.
Coffee is full of Riboflavin, an important B vitamin that boosts energy and metabolism. It’s also packed with antioxidants that can fight diseases and boost your immune system.
Energy Drinks usually contain less caffeine than a simple cup of coffee
Don’t be fooled by energy drinks such as Red Bull and Monster, they actually contain less caffeine than a cup of coffee an instead are filled with tons of chemicals and sugar so you end up loading up on empty calories for less energy.
Technically, caffeine isn’t really a stimulant
Caffeine works by blocking adenosine, the neurotransmitter that tells your brain it’s tired. So although it is often described as stimulant, it is a bit more complicated than that. Caffeine doesn’t really stimulate, but instead it blocks depressants, allowing the bodies natural stimulates, dopamine and glutamate to “do their work more freely”.
To learn more about caffeine and the opportunities for caffeinated products in the Canadian market, check our our very own Krista Coventry at the Natural Health Products Research Society Annual Conference.