Is Caffeine a Diuretic?

Can I suffer from dehydration and electrolyte imbalance by having excess of caffeine? Is it a diuretic? If these are questions that have been nagging you for some time, then grab a cup of coffee and read on to find about this caffeine diuretic mechanism.
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages that almost everyone enjoys and it's a fact that coffee contains a good amount of caffeine. People are often concerned about whether the caffeine in coffee is a diuretic or not. Let's first understand what diuretics are, before finding out 'whether caffeine is a diuretic or not?'

Diuretics Defined
Well, diuretics are substances (drugs or compounds) that increase the flow of urine, thus causing a person to get rid of the excess amounts of water in his body. They also increase the excretion of waste products in the body by flushing them out with the excess water.

Caffeine as a Diuretic - What People Believe
Many people believe that excess of caffeine can lead to increased urinary output. Caffeine is believed to have adverse effects on one's fluid balance, as it acts on the kidneys resulting in excessive production of urine. This poses a potential threat to health, as it could culminate into dehydration and electrolyte imbalance in the body. The following information will give you a clear idea of the "caffeine diuretic effects" and will help you understand whether caffeine is a diuretic or not.

Diuretic Effects of Caffeine - What Research Shows
For many years now, one of the effects of caffeine on the body has been considered to be diuresis. Some people believe that drinking caffeinated beverages will cause fluid loss, so they can't be counted as part of the daily fluid intake. Others say that caffeinated beverages do not lead to an increase in loss of fluid. Studies done towards finding out, is caffeine a diuretic or not, can give you the correct answer to this question. A person's age, basal metabolic rate, diet, immunity, overall health and the environment have a direct impact on the water balance of the body. Some researches has proven that caffeine intake can also be an important factor that can affect a person's fluid balance.

In one study, 12 regular caffeine consumers were told to abstain from caffeine for five days at a stretch and they were then given coffee that contained 642 mg of caffeine. There was an increase in the urine output of these individuals when the caffeine was given. The research was limited to studying the effects of onetime consumption of caffeine; it did not evaluate the impact of caffeine when it was consumed on a regular basis. This is important to take into consideration because consuming coffee just once is largely different from consuming it on a daily basis.

What You Should Know About Caffeine?
Initially it was said that caffeine had no significant or alarming impact on the final urine output of a person. Subsequent studies have further shown that the mechanism of caffeine diuresis is dubious in nature, as caffeine containing beverages did not impact urinary output any differently, when compared to other beverages that do not contain caffeine. However, this does not mean that caffeine does not increase your need or urge to urinate. One's reaction to caffeine intake can depend on the amount he consumes, the type of product that he consumes and his tolerance level to caffeine. And it varies from person to person.

All said and done, water is the best source of hydration, so be sure to include it as a part of your daily fluid consumption, irrespective of whether your body reacts to caffeine diuretic properties or not.

I hope this article has removed the 'caffeine diuretic myth' from your minds. It is important to understand that coffee and almost any beverage that contains caffeine, does lead to a mild amount of diuresis. However, it has also been seen that regular consumers of coffee and caffeinated drinks have a higher tolerance to the mild diuretic effect of caffeine and other beverages. Thus, in the end it can be concluded that the diuretic effect of caffeine is something that varies from person to person and is dependent on many factors.
By Dr. Sumaiya Khan
Last Updated: 9/29/2011
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