Caffeine is a stimulant used both recreationally and medically to reduce fatigue and restore alertness. This chemical produces increased wakefulness, clearer thought processes, enhanced focus, and better general body coordination. The amount of caffeine needed to produce these effects varies depending on a person’s body mass and sensitivity to the chemical. Because this food chemical is readily available as a byproduct of decaffeination, caffeine is not usually synthesized chemically. Caffeine is water-soluble (and lipid-soluble) and therefore easily crosses the barrier that separates the bloodstream from the center of the brain. Once in the brain, this chemical works to counteract the effects of adenosine, a substance that reduces neural activity levels.
90% of American adults consume caffeine on a daily basis. One of the world's main sources of caffeine is the coffee bean, from which coffee is brewed. Other common sources of caffeine include tea and (to a lesser extent) chocolate. Less common sources of caffeine include the yerba maté, guarana and ilex guayusa plants, which are used in the preparation of teas and energy drinks.
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