About 80% of Americans use caffeine daily, according to the FDA, and many of us couldn’t live without our morning cup of joe.1 As a man ages, he needs to start cutting out unhealthy habits, but does that include caffeine? Is caffeine good for men as they age? As it turns out, moderate caffeine consumption is healthy for older men in several ways. This includes cognitive health and heart health.
Research shows that moderate caffeine consumption can help prevent heart disease and fend off dementia.2 In the heart, caffeine helps accelerate endothelial cells, which line blood vessels and help keep them flexible. This is a huge benefit to heart health, considering that your blood vessels tend to harden as you age. Another study suggests that caffeine helps slash the risk of stroke and heart failure.3
How Does Caffeine Help Cognitive Health?
We now know that caffeine helps improve alertness, memory, and other cognitive skills. When it comes to caffeine intake for older men who are at higher risk of developing dementia, caffeine may help lower the risk of dementia. The higher amount of antioxidants in coffee is thought to help slow aging-related conditions like heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
Don’t go chugging a pot of coffee just yet, though! A different study from Harvard Health suggests that too much caffeine can actually have a negative effect on cognition. Heavy coffee drinks, defined as 6 cups or more daily, have a 53% higher risk of dementia than moderate or light coffee drinkers. Sadly, it’s unclear if it’s the caffeine or a different compound in coffee that causes this.
Risks of Too Much Caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant that increases activity in your central nervous system, which can cause adverse effects in some people who are sensitive to the drug. Excessive caffeine intake can have detrimental effects on your health, not unlike illegal stimulants like cocaine.
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Feeling jittery or shaky
- Racing thoughts
- Dangerously high heart rate
- Elevated blood pressure
As you can see, drinking too much coffee or taking too much caffeine can be more dangerous than abstaining from it altogether. Older men, in particular, are more likely to suffer heart attacks or strokes when they consume too much caffeine. If you use caffeine to wake up in the morning or get through long days, take care to not consume too much.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
Generally, 400 milligrams of caffeine is the maximum recommended daily dosage. One cup of regular coffee contains about 100 milligrams, so it’s best to not drink more than 4 cups of coffee per day.
Tea also contains caffeine, albeit in smaller amounts than coffee. Depending on the tea blend, a cup of tea can contain between 20–60 milligrams of caffeine. Going by an average of 40 milligrams per cup, this means you shouldn’t drink more than 10 cups per day. However, we’d suggest erring on the side of caution and not exceeding 8 cups because the tea may be stronger than you think.
Side Effects of Caffeine
As with any drug, caffeine has a laundry list of side effects. Light caffeine users might experience no side effects or minor effects, while heavier caffeine users are more likely to experience severe side effects. These include:
- Frequent urination
- Restlessness or anxiety
- Gastrointestinal problems including diarrhea
While they might have to give up scarfing down pizzas and large steaks, older men don’t have to give up caffeine. In fact, moderate caffeine consumption, especially in coffee and tea, can help protect your heart and mind.
Featured Image Credit: goodluz, Shutterstock
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