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A weekly show where we debunk common misconceptions. This week, Elliott discusses some misconceptions about caffeine!

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[Really fast] Hey guys, I'm Elliott Morgan. This is Mental Floss on YouTube. Today I'm going to be talking about some misconceptions about caffeine. I'm really excited. Hello fish.


Misconception Number 1: Red Bull contains more caffeine than coffee. It turns out that Red Bull has less caffeine than a standard cup of coffee. According to the Mayo Clinic, an 8oz cup of coffee contains between 95 and 200 milligrams of caffeine. The smallest Red Bull you can buy is 8.4oz, and that only contains between 75 and 80 milligrams of caffeine. And that goes for both regular and sugar-free versions of the drink.

Misconception Number 2: Espresso contains more caffeine than coffee. A lot of times you'll see someone ordering an espresso rather than coffee. They really want some caffeine in their system, and that might work if they drink, like, four espressos. According to the same Mayo Clinic study, 1oz of espresso, which is the typical serving size, contains 47 to 75 milligrams of caffeine. Compare that with the 95 to 200 milligrams in coffee I described earlier.

Misconception Number 3: You get dehydrated when you drink something containing caffeine. Many people claim that caffeinated drinks aren't hydrating, or that they make you have to pee more so they're actually dehydrating. And it's true that these drinks are slightly diuretic, so they do cause a little more urination, but that doesn't mean they dehydrate you. In 2014, researchers at the University of Birmingham conducted a study of 50 men who drank between 3 and 6 cups of coffee daily. When they looked at the men's fluid levels they determined that coffee was able to hydrate the men in a way similar to water. Because coffee is the greatest thing ever.

Misconception Number 4: Caffeine increases the risk of heart disease. We actually don't know yet. According to the American Heart Association, a possible link between caffeine intake and heart disease is still being studied. So far, studies have had conflicting results. Still, the association claims that moderate coffee drinking, or 1 to 2 cups per day, doesn't seem to be harmful.

Misconception Number 5: Caffeine increases the risk of osteoporosis. This is also a phenomenon that needs to be studied more. Studies do find that older adults need to be careful with their caffeine intake. If they're drinking over 300 milligrams per day they might be increasing their risk of osteoporosis and hip fractures. As for younger adults, research published in a 2002 issue of the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology claims that caffeine intake does decrease calcium absorption, which is related to osteoporosis, bit it's a very slight decrease that can be offset with a mere 1 to 2 tablespoons of milk in your coffee.

Misconception Number 6: If you want to lose weight, ingest caffeine. So, in theory this one kind of makes sense. If you take in 100 milligrams of caffeine, that'll burn around 75 to 100 calories that day thanks to a metabolism boost but, in reality it isn't that fool proof. One study followed 58,000 health professionals for 12 years. They found that both men and women who increased their caffeine intake over that time ended up gaining more weight than those who maintained the same intake or decreased caffeine consumption. Can you imagine studying that for 12 years?

Misconception #7: When you're drunk, caffeine can sober you up.  The idea that coffee sobers you up is persistent and even makes sense after I just explained that caffeine gives you a metabolism boost, but that boost does not help you metabolize alcohol any quicker than you already would.  In fact, most experts recommend that you avoid caffeine altogether when you've been drinking, it's a stimulant so you might feel more alert but you're not more sober.  According to a 2008 study of college students, those who drank both caffeine and alcohol in the same night, like, let's say a Red Bull and Vodka, were twice as likely to get in a car with a driver who had been drinking, they were also twice as likely to injure themselves in an accident.

Misconception #8: Caffeine is addictive.  As you probably know, caffeine withdrawal is very real, I certainly know that.  If you typically drink a cup or two of coffee every day, then stop one day, you might experience a headache, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, or some other terrible symptoms, but experts don't take this withdrawal as seriously as they do other addictions like to drugs, because it's so mild in comparison.  According to the 2009 edition of Molecular Neuropharmacology: A Foundation for Clinical Neuroscience, true compulsive use of caffeine has not been documented, because they've never met me.  

Misconception #9: Caffeine causes insomnia.  Not always.  So there are two types of insomnia, there's primary and secondary.  Primary insomnia is a sleep disorder that can't be blamed on medical or environmental causes, so that means caffeine cannot possibly be responsible.  Secondary insomnia, though, can be.  It's considered a side effect to another condition or problem, so caffeine is sometimes blamed, but it is worth mentioning that caffeine gets absorbed quickly, so within 8-10 hours after drinking coffee, 75% of the caffeine has already been processed through your liver and the rest of your body.  Basically a couple cups of coffee in the morning should not be causing any kind of insomnia.  
Misconception #10: Caffeine is bad for you.  You shouldn't overdo it, but there might be some health benefits to coffee.  According to the Mayo Clinic, studies have shown a link between moderate caffeine intake and, "Protection against Parkinson's disease, Type II Diabetes, and liver disease, including liver cancer."  Plus, it might improve cognitive function and decrease the risk of depression.  

Thank you so much for watching Misconceptions on mental_floss on YouTube which is made with the help of all of these nice people.  If you have a topic for an upcoming Misconceptions episode that you would like to see, leave it in the comments and see you next week.  Bye.

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