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Does caffeine offer a health hazard or a performance benefit?

Opinion on DRibose and Caffeine from Bioenergy Life Science, Inc.

This debate rages even as caffeine-containing beverages are among the most consumed today. Approximately 90 per cent of people in the United States consume caffeine daily. Caffeine, which takes hours to be completely eliminated from our body, is found in coffee, tea, and increasingly in energy beverages, most often combined with a sugar component. The increasing consumption of energy beverages is primarily due to the promotion of caffeine as an "energy" benefit, providing us with a perceived edge to our stressful daily pace. In reality, we know caffeine does not produce energy at all, but is a central nervous stimulant.

Caffeine has positive benefits as well as detrimental health effects. It stimulates the brain's cortex with a resultant increase in mental activity, a temporary feeling of alertness, and reduced

Adenosine accumulates in the extracellular space during fatigue, reflecting that the rate of ATP utilization exceeds the rate of ATP synthesis. Adenosine's effect in the brain is to inhibit neural activity, producing a state of tiredness and sleepiness; whereas, caffeine is stimulatory. Caffeine has been proposed to block adenosine receptors, inhibiting the release of neurotransmitters and clinically producing a state of wakefulness.

Caffeine also has been proposed to increase the release of calcium from the sacroplasmic reticulum. Impaired calcium release has been identified as a contributor to the development of fatigue. Reduced intra-cellular ATP levels and elevated magnesium concentrations, both thought to be present in fatigue, can reduce the effectiveness of this sarcoplasmic reticulum-calcium interaction.

Besides the stimulatory cognitive effects of caffeine, other physiological alterations exist. Sleep disorders can be common when caffeine is consumed late in an individual's daily routine. Many have also found from time to time an increase in heart rate, along with a feeling of nervousness, headaches, occasional lightheadedness and the "jitters" surrounding excessive caffeine intake regardless of the time of day. These altered physiological states produce stress and depending upon the amount of caffeine consumed during a finite period of time can be significant in those with underlying diseases. High doses of consumed caffeine, or even small amounts of caffeine in sensitive individuals, can produce even greater degrees of stress. Caffeine can also stimulate energy expenditure, mediated by a concomitant increase in lipid and carbohydrate oxidation, which can be further increased with stress.

The caffeine profile, with its positives and negatives, begs the following question: Is there an energy supplement(s), when combined with caffeine that could lessen any or all of the untoward effects and still provide the desirable benefits? Creatine has been popular in recent years with athletes, reporting benefits in increasing muscular strength, delaying fatigue, and allowing athletes to train harder to ultimately increase their performance. Many of these benefits have not been universally substantiated, but athletes still utilize this supplement. Caffeine has been reported by Belgian researchers to potentially negate the benefits of creatine.

D-ribose, a natural occurring pentose carbohydrate, important as a key component in the energy molecule of ATP, may be a more complimentary agent. D-ribose has been shown to enhance the recovery of high-energy compounds (e.g. ATP) following stress without significant negative effects. This has been substantiated in patients with heart disease and in athletes undergoing high intensity exercise. Besides replenishing ATP levels, many have also found functional improvements, including neurological benefits. One study reported that D-ribose benefited sleep duration and patterns, along with mental clarity in patients with fibromyalgia and or chronic fatigue syndrome. A more recent study evaluating oral D-ribose in "Baby Boomers" with persistent fatigue demonstrated positive objective physiological benefits, as well as improvements in vitality, social outlook and mental awareness. D-ribose is present in some consumer products, such as Arizona Tea Caution Energy, which also contains caffeine and Agel OHM, without caffeine. Both report a boost in energy, enhanced mental focus and improve concentration abilities.

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