Caffeine is a stimulant found in foods and beverages including coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks and chocolate. Some medications also contain caffeine. Although caffeine can give you energy and help you stay awake, it can cause side effects and may reduce the absorption of some vitamins and minerals. However, it does not appear to affect the B vitamins.
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B vitamins include biotin, cobalamin, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, riboflavin and thiamin. These water-soluble vitamins are needed by your body in small amounts each day for growth and development, turning food into energy, immune function and producing hormones, enzymes, red blood cells and DNA. If you are deficient in one of the B vitamins you may experience symptoms including tiredness, anemia, depression, loss of appetite, hair loss, muscle cramps, abdominal pain and respiratory illnesses.
Caffeine and B Vitamins
A study on the effect of caffeine on homocysteine levels published in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" found that caffeine intakes of up to 870 milligrams per day did not affect blood levels of folate, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12. This is about the amount of caffeine in 8 or 9 cups of coffee.
Side Effects and Safety
Caffeine consumption can cause side effects including diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, loss in bone density, irritability, anxiousness, dry skin, rash and abnormal heartbeat. Pregnant women should consume no more than 300 to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, and people suffering from seizure disorders, irritable colon, depression, osteoporosis and cardiovascular problems may experience a worsening of their condition if they consume caffeine.
Although caffeine won't affect the amount of B vitamins in your body, it is still wise to limit your caffeine intake to that contained in 2 to 4 cups of coffee, or 200 to 400 milligrams, per day. Consuming grains along with five servings of fruits and vegetables each day is enough for you to meet most of your requirements for B vitamins, although pregnant women may need extra folic acid. People who do not consume many fruits and vegetables may want to consider a B-complex supplement.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Contribution of Caffeine to the Homocysteine-raising Effect of Coffee: a Randomized Controlled Trial in Humans
- Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: Coffee and Health: A Review of Recent Human Research
- Drugs.com: Caffeine
- MedlinePlus: Caffeine
- American Cancer Society: Vitamin B Complex