Whether it’s coffee, tea, sports drinks, or other caffeinated beverages, many people love the lift that comes with caffeine intake. Caffeine consumption is extremely high among adults. For instance, research shows that at least 85 percent of American adults drink caffeine in various forms. Of these consumers, adults aged 50 to 64 take the most caffeine.
Also, research shows that caffeine is the most consumed drug in the U.S. But what is the level of caffeine sensitivity with age? Does caffeine sensitivity increase with age? Read on for detailed answers to these questions.
How Does Caffeine Work?
When absorbed, caffeine mainly works on the brain. It works by stimulating the central nervous system, whereby it blocks adenosine receptors. As a result, it promotes wakefulness and makes you feel more alert. That is why it is a favorite morning beverage for many people.
The physiological effects of caffeine make it considered a drug. However, it is prone to abuse. When abused, it may cause withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, headache, and increased heart rate among other side effects.
Caffeine Sensitivity With Age
It is possible to develop a certain level of caffeine sensitivity. Although caffeine sensitivity varies from one individual to the other, it is more common with age. Many studies show that older people take more time to clear caffeine from the body than younger individuals. In one of the studies, coffee consumers aged 65 to 70 took three times more to metabolize caffeine than younger participants.
The body absorbs caffeine rapidly. That is why its effects are experienced soon after drinking a morning cup of coffee. Essentially, 99 percent of caffeine is absorbed within 45 minutes after consumption. It reaches peak levels in the bloodstream within 15 minutes of consumption. However, it takes a couple of hours to break down coffee and get rid of it from the body.
After some hours, certain enzymes in the liver start breaking down caffeine. This process takes place gradually until all the caffeine gets broken down. It takes approximately 6 hours to reduce the caffeine content in the blood by half in healthy young adults.
As people age, the liver enzymes that metabolize caffeine become less efficient. As a result, older individuals take longer to get rid of caffeine from the body. However, other factors can slow down the rate of metabolizing caffeine regardless of age such as certain medications, smoking, and pregnancy.
These research findings indicate that when people drink the same amount of caffeine, older consumers will feel amplified effects of coffee for a longer period than younger consumers. Thus, older people are more likely to experience more intense side effects of coffee such as sleeplessness, irritability, and anxiety.
Dealing With Caffeine Sensitivity among the Elderly
Most adults take dietary caffeine from coffee. The average consumption of caffeine among adults is about 200 milligrams per day, which is equivalent to about 2 standard cups of coffee. As people age, they become more sensitive to caffeine and its effects on the body. Thus, older individuals should consume caffeine earlier in the day. That way, they will find it easier to fall asleep by the time they get to bed. Besides, some seniors experience sleep disorders resulting from certain medications, anxiety, depression, and dementia. Thus, older people should reduce their coffee intake and avoid drinking coffee at least four hours before sleeping.
The FDA recommends limiting yourself to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily, which is about 4 standard cups of coffee. If you experience mildly nauseous sensations, anxiety, jitters, and difficulty sleeping, it is time to cut down on your caffeine intake.