If you are avoiding caffeine and missed your customary cup of morning coffee, you may feel tired, moody, depressed or have difficulty concentrating, which are classic symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. Aspartame, an artificial sweetener used by manufacturers to maintain the sweetness of their foods or beverages without adding additional sugar and calories, has developed a reputation over the years for causing side effects of its own. Determine how your body handles these substances individually before taking them together, if you are concerned about side effects.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration classifies caffeine as a drug and food additive. Approximately 80 percent of American adults consume 200 mg of caffeine daily; that's equivalent to one to two 5-oz. cups of coffee. Caffeine may cause unpleasant side effects, but research has shown that mild caffeine consumption may provide neurological benefits in some adults. A study published in the June 2009 issue of "Psychology Reports" investigated the effects of caffeine on memory loss in college students. Researchers gave subjects either a 200-mg dose of caffeine or a 250-mg dose of a lactose placebo followed by a 30-minute hiatus and a six-word recall test. Results indicated that subjects who ingested the caffeine remembered more words than those given the placebo.
Caffeine's Side Effects
The side effects you might experience after caffeine ingestion may vary depending on your body and the amount you consumed. Moderate caffeine consumption, which, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, equals 100 to 200 mg per day, may cause side effects such as jitteriness, sleeplessness, elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, dehydration, frequent urination or dependence. People who ingest caffeine daily may become dependent and experience withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, headache or fatigue, if they suddenly cease consumption.
Aspartame, which is commercially marketed as Equal and NutraSweet, has been approved for use in more than 100 countries and is found in more than 6,000 foods worldwide. Its composition includes the chemicals aspartic acid and phenylalanine, which are held together by a methanol bond. The scientific community has conducted more than 200 scientific investigations on aspartame; however, the FDA has continued to support its use as a "general purpose sweetener in food."
Aspartame's Side Effects
Mercola.com states that "aspartame accounts for more than 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA." The FDA compiled a list of the 90 various documented symptoms attributed to aspartame consumption. They include migraine headaches, anxiety attacks, muscle spasms, heart palpitations, insomnia and nausea.
Caffeine and Aspartame
According to Mercola.com, the amino acid aspartic acid, which composes 40 percent of aspartame, elevates the level of aspartame in the blood. This chemical travels to the brain via the blood and performs as a neurotransmitter. It allows calcium and free radicals to enter brain cells that later die as a result of overstimulation; aspartame is referred to as an excitotoxin because it "excites" cells to death. Caffeine, which has side effects similar to aspartame, also stimulates brain activity and can compound the damage aspartame may cause. Taking caffeine in conjunction with aspartame may worsen side effects.
- "Psychological Reports"; Caffeine's Effects on True and False Memory; S. Capek and R.K. Guenther; June 2009
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Medicines in My Home: Caffeine and Your Body; 2007
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Caffeine Withdrawal Recognized as a Disorder; September 2004
- Mercla.com: Aspartame is, by Far, the Most Dangerous Substance on the Market That is Added to Foods
- National Drug and Alcohol Research Center: Caffeine Fact Sheet