Did you know that nearly 90% of adults in the U.S. consume caffeine every day? This might not surprise you, as you can’t imagine beginning your day without your cup of coffee. Moderate amounts can actually provide some benefits. Researchers found that consuming about 200 mg, or two cups of coffee, can make you more alert, fend off headaches, and even help prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer.
The problems can arise when you take in more than 500 mg per day. This can lead to addiction, anxiety, irritability, and even hallucinations and death. I recall hearing about a teenager in Ohio a few years ago who sadly passed away as a result of a caffeine overdose. Although this is rare, it is possible. I have personally experienced some very negative side effects as a result of consuming too much caffeine, and I ended up completely cutting it out of my diet about a year and a half ago. As you can imagine, this topic is very important to me.
Here are some tips so you can safely enjoy your caffeine routine.
What is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in foods and drinks like coffee, tea, and even chocolate. It’s also added to other items like soda, energy drinks, supplements, and some over-the-counter medicines, like Excederin Migraine. Although it’s natural and completely legal, caffeine is a stimulant drug. It’s a chemical that affects the central nervous system. That’s kind of scary. Don’t you think?
High intake of caffeine can:
- Make you feel jittery and shaky
- Increase your heart rate
- Raise your blood pressure
- Cause sleep problems
- Upset your stomach
How Much Caffeine are YOU Consuming?
Take a look at some common sources of caffeine. How do you add up?
- 10 Hour Energy Shot: 422 milligrams
- McDonald’s 16-ounce Ice Coffee: 200 milligrams
- McDonald’s 16-ounce Ice Tea: 100 milligrams
- Coke, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper (or Diet Varieties) 12 ounce: 45 milligrams
- Mountain Dew Soda 12 ounce: 55 milligrams
- 5 Hour Energy Shot: 200 milligrams
- ACE Energy Drink: 160 milligrams
- AMP Energy Drink: 160 milligrams
- Monster Energy Drink: 160 milligrams
- Average Latte: 150 milligrams
- Lipton Black Tea: 55 milligrams
- Matcha Green Tea: 25–70 milligrams
- Shot of Espresso 2 ounce: 150 milligrams
- Brewed Coffee 12 ounce: 100+ milligrams*
- Starbucks Bottled Frappachino: 90 milligrams
- Starbucks 16 ounce Iced Espresso or Cappuccino: 225 milligrams
- Starbucks 16 ounce Decaf Coffee: 25 milligrams
- Chai Tea: 47 milligrams
- Black Tea: 42 milligrams
- Green Tea: 25 milligrams
- White, Jasmine, Oolong Tea: 25 milligrams
- Herbal Tea: 0 milligrams
- Milk Chocolate Bar 1.6 ounce: 9 milligrams
*Amount varies depending on amount of grounds, brewing method, etc.
How Much Caffeine is Too Much?
Recent guidelines recommend healthy adults are safe to consume up to about 400 mg of caffeine each day. Each person’s body makeup is unique and each caffeine product is different. Because of this, the effects of caffeine can vary greatly.
Some groups of people need to be particularly careful. It’s no surprise that pregnant women and children need to lower their caffeine intake. But, you might be surprised to know that people with heart conditions, diabetes, anxiety, and those taking certain medications can be highly sensitive to its effects. Be careful if you’re taking the following medications, and talk with your doctor about possible unwanted interactions and side effects.
- Ephedrine: Mixing caffeine with this medication, which is used in decongestants, might increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke or seizure.
- Theophylline (Theo-24, Elixophyllin, others): This medication, used to open up bronchial airways, tends to have some caffeine-like effects. Taking it with caffeine might increase the adverse effects of caffeine, such as nausea and heart palpitations.
- Echinacea: This herbal supplement, which is sometimes used to prevent colds or other infections, may increase the concentration of caffeine in your blood and may increase caffeine’s unpleasant effects.
How to Lower YOUR Caffeine Intake
How much caffeine do you get a day? Were you surprised to see the numbers above? If you’re consuming too much caffeine, it’s best to decrease your consumption slowly over several days. A sudden change can cause symptoms like bad headaches or feeling tired or irritable. Try mixing regular coffee with decaf or make the switch to tea. Consider swapping out one soda for a glass of water. (This might help you drop a few pounds too!) Also, make sure to get plenty of rest so that your body will not feel as tired. This may help you be less tempted to drink caffeinated beverages throughout the day.
Stay happy, healthy, and N motion, AND REMEMBER…age is just a number!