Sunday, May 21, 2017

Caffeine – how much is too much?


Caffeine – who doesn’t enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning? Whether a K-cup, Starbucks or Mr. Coffee, most people enjoy starting their day with a cup of coffee.  But in the news recently is the story of the teen who died, according to the coroner, from drinking too much caffeine.  So how much caffeine is safe to drink? Are there any health benefits to drinking coffee and other beverages that provide caffeine?

How much caffeine is safe to drink?

The teenager who died drank three caffeine drinks over a two-hour period, a large Mountain Dew, a latte and an energy drink. According to some reports, it is estimated that this was about 300 mg of caffeine – which should be safe for most people. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), most adults can safely consume 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is about four 8-ounce cups of coffee. According to WebMD, drinking more than this can lead to some symptoms, such as insomnia, nervousness, increased heart rate, stomach irritation and other symptoms. The Mayo Clinic notes that 400 milligrams of caffeine a day is safe for most healthy adults. This would be the amount in four cups of brewed coffee or 10 cans of cola soft drink, or just 2 “energy shot” drinks. The Mayo Clinic notes that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult their doctor about caffeine.

FDA notes that moderate amounts of caffeine are not harmful. But what is moderate? For most of us that would be one to two, five ounce cups of coffee a day. But since we are all different, caffeine affects us differently depending on our size, gender, and how sensitive we are to drinking beverages with caffeine.

How much caffeine is too much?

According to FDA, experts agree that 600 mg of caffeine or about 4-7 cups of coffee or more a day is too much.

Is drinking coffee healthy?

A lot of research has documented good health benefits of drinking beverages with caffeine. WebMD notes people who drink coffee are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, dementia or Parkinson’s disease. Coffee drinkers also have fewer strokes and some cancers. But it seems it is not just the caffeine in coffee that has health benefits as decaf also seems to help prevent diabetes. WebMD notes it may be the antioxidants in coffee, decaf or regular, that may help prevent diabetes. Or the minerals it provides like chromium or magnesium which help control our blood sugar levels. In the same article, WebMD stated that for women, coffee may actually lower their risk of stroke.

How much caffeine is in beverages?
The Mayo Clinic lists the caffeine content of coffee, soda and more. The math department the University of Utah has an extensive chart of the caffeine content of popular drinks. The charts below are adapted from these two websites.

Coffee drinks
Size in ounces
Caffeine (mg)
Brewed, regular
8
95-165
Brewed, decaf
8
2-5
Espresso, regular
1
47-64
Espresso, decaf
1
0
Instant
8
63
Latte or mocha
8
63-126


Tea Drinks
Size in ounces
Caffeine (mg)
Brewed black tea, regular
8
25-48
Brewed black tea, decaf
8
2-5
Brewed, green tea
8
25-29
Ready to Drink, bottled tea
8
5-40


Sodas, Soft Drinks, (Pop) 12 ounces
Caffeine (mg)
Coca-Cola Classic
34
Diet Coke
45.6
Mountain Dew
55
Red Bull (8.2 ounces)
80
Pepsi-Cola
37.5
Diet Pepsi
36
Sprite
0
Minute Maid Orange
0
A & W Root Beer
0

I will continue to enjoy my cup of coffee every morning.  Or if you prefer, decaf or tea, drink those beverages.  As noted, it may not be the caffeine in coffee or tea that has health benefits but the antioxidants or minerals.  Learn how your body reacts to caffeinated drinks and what your tolerance level is.  Perhaps one cup is all your body can tolerate.  Perhaps coffee or tea interferes with your sleep if you drink it too late in the day.  Adapt your intake to your response to these beverages.

Sources: in the news recently, According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), most adults can safely consume 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is about four 8-ounce cups of coffee., WebMD, The Mayo Clinic notes that 400 milligrams of caffeine a day is safe for most healthy adults. This would be the amount in four cups of brewed coffee or 10 cans of cola soft drink, or just 2 “energy shot” drinks. Mayo Clinic lists the caffeine content of coffee, soda and more, math department the University of Utah, image source: coffee cup


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