phytochemicals Phytochemicals
 
 

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Caffeine

Caffeine

MW: 194.19
Formula: C8H10N4O2

What is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a water-soluble alkaloid. Pure caffeine is a white odourless crystalline powder with a very bitter taste. Caffeine is closely related to other alkaloids such as theophylline (mainly found in tea) and theobromine (mainly found in cacao beans). The difference between these three molecules is the position of the methyl groups.

Distribution

Caffeine is found in many everyday products, including tea, cola nuts, coffee, chocolate, mate and guarana. It is also found in some softdrinks (mainly colas and energy drinks) where it is artificially added.

Health Benefits of Caffeine

Caffeine acts on the nervous system by blocking adenosine receptor thereby slowing down nerve cell acitivity. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, respiration and blood circulation. Caffeine also acts as a diuretic. Caffeine increases the circulation and oxidation of fatty acids. This is why caffeine is used by sportsmen to increase fatty acid metabolism. Caffeine is often used in combination with aspirin to treat headaches. Caffeine can also have negative impact on health, especially if overdosed. There is evidence that too much caffeine can reduce bone density and caffeine is not recommended for pregnant women. Moderation is the key to caffeine consumption.

Facts about Caffeine

Caffeine containing plants have been used by different cultures over centuries. Tea from caffeine containing plants was used to treat headaches, coughs and even plague. Only recently caffeine is used to stay awake and relieve fatigue. Caffeine is now one of the most widely used phytochemical.
Caffeine is not addictive but it can be habbit forming. Although caffeine is not toxic to humans in normal levels, it is very toxic to animals, such as dogs and horses.

Synonyms

1,3,7-Trimethylxanthin


 
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