Caffeine can be found in a variety of food sources that are a part of many Americans' daily diet. Everything from coffee and tea to chocolate and headache medication contains caffeine. With more and more caffeine being consumed, Americans needs to be aware of possible side effects from too much caffeine, including muscle spasms and twitching. While caffeine does offer many different health benefits, too much can cause health problems.
Muscle Spasms, Cramps and Twitching
Muscle spasms, cramps or twitches are involuntary and sometimes painful movements or contractions of the muscles within the body. They can occur if a muscle is overused, such as during exercise, and if you are dehydrated. Low levels of potassium and calcium can also cause muscle spasms. Muscle spasms can also result from alcoholism, hypothyroidism, kidney failure and certain drugs and medications, including caffeine. Muscle spasms and cramps can usually be relieved by stretching your muscle and increasing your fluid intake. If muscle spasms are severe and don’t go away or last a long time, consult with your physician.
Caffeine is a natural substance found in foods and beverages such as coffee, tea, soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate and a variety of medications. For the average person, two to four cups of caffeinated beverages a day are safe, however it depends on the amount of caffeine per beverage. Too much caffeine can cause restlessness, irritability, muscle twitching and anxiety. Caffeine also may provide some benefits, however. A 2001 study published in the “Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease” has linked the consumption of coffee to the protection against Alzheimer’s disease.
A 2011 study published in “Physiology and Behavior” looked at the connection between muscle spasms and pain and the consumption of caffeine. The researchers examoned 11 male cyclists with an average age of 25 years and found that caffeine ingestion improved the exercise capacity in their leg muscles and reduced muscle pain. The reduction in muscle pain was, however, dependent on the ambient temperature and only showed effectiveness in hotter temperatures. So, while too much caffeine can cause muscle spasms, a moderate amount may help improve muscle function.
As with any medication, dietary changes or medical condition, you should always consult your physician before making any changes. Do not consume caffeine in large doses use it only in moderation. If you regularly consume large amounts of caffeine, consider reducing your caffeine intake gradually. Remember that caffeine is not only in coffee and sodas, but also in foods such as chocolate and some medications. Try and limit your caffeine intake to between 200 to 300 milligrams per day.
- MedlinePlus; Muscle Cramps; July 23, 2010
- MedlinePlus; Muscle Twitching; May 21, 2010
- MedlinePlus: Caffeine
- “Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease”; Caffeine Synergizes with Another Coffee Component to Increase Plasma GCSF: Linkage to Cognitive Benefits in Alzheimer’s Mice; C. Cao et el.; March 18, 2011
- “Physiology and Behavior”; Caffeine Lowers Muscle Pain During Exercise in Hot but not Cool Environments; MS Ganio; March 1, 2011
- University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Caffeine; October 4, 2006
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.