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Coffee Addicts Get No Real Benefit from Morning Cup of Coffee

Although a morning cup of coffee is a must have for most regular coffee drinkers, that cup of coffee makes us no more alert or energized than non coffee drinkers who do not start the day with caffeine.

Although many of us rely on a cup of coffee in the morning to kick start the day, researchers at Bristol University in the UK say that those of us with coffee habits are getting no real benefit from the caffeine in our diets.

379 study volunteers abstained from coffee for 16 hours and then were divided into 2 random groups. Half of the people received a caffeine pill (equivalent to a morning cup of coffee) and the other half received a placebo. About half of the study subjects were regular ‘heavy’ coffee drinkers, consuming 3 or more cups per day, the remaining subjects either drank coffee more occasionally, or not at all.

After taking the caffeine pill or placebo, the subjects were asked to self report levels of alertness, and were also tested on memory and attentiveness.

The results

  • Heavy coffee drinkers that received a caffeine placebo reported feeling less alert than heavy coffee drinkers who received a caffeine pill. Those that received a placebo were also more likely to complain of symptoms like headache.
  • Light or non coffee drinkers who received a placebo were equally alert and performed as well on measures of memory and attentiveness as heavy coffee drinkers given a hit of caffeine.

The researchers explain that the benefit heavy coffee drinkers experience from a morning cup of coffee comes from that morning caffeine reversing the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal that have built up over a night’s sleep. Symptoms of coffee withdrawal include fatigue and irritability.

For regular coffee users, that morning cup of coffee does not provide an alertness boost that exceeds the normal or baseline level for non caffeine addicted persons.

Read the full study results in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

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