DNA Digest: Caffeine
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DNA Digest: Caffeine


Caffeine is the world's most popular psychoactive drug. Whether it's a morning cup of coffee or an afternoon energy drink, caffeine is a staple for many of us. But did you know that your genetics can impact how your body processes caffeine?

In this blog, we'll explore caffeine sensitivity and its relationship to genetics. 

What is caffeine sensitivity?

Caffeine sensitivity refers to how an individual's body reacts to caffeine consumption. Some people can consume large amounts of caffeine without feeling any effects, while others may feel jittery, anxious, or have trouble sleeping even after consuming small amounts.

What determines caffeine sensitivity?

The CYP1A2 gene accounts for approximately 95% of caffeine metabolism. It is responsible for encoding an enzyme that metabolises caffeine in the liver. Variations in this gene can lead to quite significant differences in how fast or slow caffeine is metabolised, which can impact caffeine sensitivity.

So, if you're wondering why your friend can chug a triple espresso and still take a nap - while you're bouncing off the walls after a single cup - genetics may be the culprit. 😉

49% of our NGX customers are 'fast metabolisers' of caffeine meaning that they take between 4-6 hours to reduce caffeine levels by half.

What are the different CYP1A2 variants?

There are two variants of the CYP1A2 gene: CYP1A21A and CYP1A21F. Individuals who carry the CYP1A2*1F variant may have a slower metabolism of caffeine and are more likely to be sensitive to its effects.

On the other hand, individuals who carry the CYP1A2*1A variant may metabolise caffeine more quickly and may be less sensitive to its effects.

What are the symptoms of caffeine sensitivity?

Symptoms of caffeine sensitivity can include jitters, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, and an elevated heart rate. If you experience these symptoms after consuming caffeine, it may be a sign that you have a genetic predisposition to caffeine sensitivity.

Can you test for caffeine sensitivity?

Yes, you can take a DNA test to determine if you have a genetic predisposition to caffeine sensitivity. However, it's important to remember that genetics is just one factor that contributes to caffeine sensitivity, and it's not a guarantee that you will or won't experience certain symptoms.

Managing caffeine sensitivity

If you're sensitive to caffeine, there are several strategies you can use to manage your intake. Consider switching to decaffeinated beverages or consuming smaller amounts of caffeine throughout the day. Be mindful of the symptoms you experience and adjust your intake accordingly.

The benefits of caffeine

While caffeine sensitivity can have negative effects, it's important to remember that caffeine can also have many benefits. Caffeine has been shown to improve cognitive function, increase energy levels and even enhance athletic performance. Additionally, moderate caffeine consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of several diseases, including Parkinson's disease and liver cancer.

Individual responses to caffeine

It's important to note that caffeine sensitivity is not the same as caffeine intolerance or allergy. While sensitivity refers to the body's reaction to caffeine, intolerance and allergy refer to specific negative reactions to the substance. It's also important to remember that everyone responds differently to caffeine, and some individuals may experience negative symptoms even if they don't have a genetic predisposition to caffeine sensitivity.


By understanding how genetics impact caffeine sensitivity, we can make more informed choices about our caffeine consumption and potentially avoid negative side effects. So, the next time you reach for that cup of coffee, remember: your genes may be calling the shots.



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