How much caffeine is too much? Caffeine is a stimulant that can have many benefits, but it also has some downsides. There are two different types of caffeine: natural and synthetic.
- Natural caffeine comes from coffee beans, tea leaves, cocoa beans, or cola nuts.
- Synthetic caffeine is made in laboratories by combining other chemicals with natural substances in plants, such as kola nut extract and theobromine (found in cocoa).
The amount of natural vs. synthetic caffeine varies depending on the type of drink you’re drinking. For example, an 8 oz cup of brewed coffee contains about 100 mg of natural caffeine. In comparison, an 8 oz cup of instant coffee contains about 150 mg due to its higher concentration of natural caffeine. On the other hand, a 12 oz can of cola only contains about 30 mg of synthetic caffeine.
How much caffeine is too much?
How much is too much? Anything beyond 400 mg a day of caffeine consumption (about the amount in 16 ounces of coffee) can be dangerous. This is because all the caffeine you drink can add up fast!
The National Coffee Association Consumer Affairs department says: “Based on years of research, up to 400 mg of caffeine consumed per day for healthy adults does not pose a health risk.”
Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine, a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That’s about the amount of caffeine in four cups of coffee, 10 cans of cola, or two energy drinks.
Consuming more than 400 mg can be dangerous. It is a stimulant. It affects the brain and nerves, making you more alert. Caffeine also acts as an appetite suppressant, which may help with weight control.
It enters your body through your stomach and small intestine. When it reaches your liver, it’s broken down into molecules carried throughout your body, including your brain.
It can pass through breast milk and enter a breastfeeding baby’s bloodstream. For this reason, nursing mothers should limit their caffeine intake to no more than 200 mg per day (about the amount in two cups of coffee).
Learning how much a product contains isn’t easy.
Currently, the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) requires that manufacturers note on the label any added caffeine in their drinks. Natural ingredients will be listed individually in a summary list of ingredients.
However, some products such as foods and drinks have added caffeine. It is researching the health effects of caffeine in young adults by reviewing the safety of these products on the market. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to what you are drinking and read food labels.
You can get that much from drinking caffeinated beverages like:
- Starbucks coffee. A one-ounce serving of Starbucks coffee contains 240 mg of caffeine. A 16-ounce (grande) Starbucks coffee contains 480 mg.
- Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. The same amount of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee has about 280 mg. A 16-ounce can of Red Bull energy drink has 80 mg, equivalent to two cups of coffee.
- Other beverages. Caffeine also hides in some unlikely places, like Gatorade. That’s perfect for athletes who need the jolt to train or compete, but it can add up quickly: A 16-ounce Gatorade has 51 mg of caffeine.
How much caffeine is safe?
Caffeine is safe for most adults when consumed in moderation. However, pregnant or nursing women don’t consume more than 300 mg of caffeine per day. And for kids and adolescents, the recommendation is a maximum of 2.5 mg per kilogram of body weight (about 5 mg for every pound).
The amount of it in coffee depends on how the beans were roasted and whether your drink has milk or cream added. Instant coffee also contains less caffeine than brewed coffee because some of it leaches out in the water.
The darker a coffee is roasted, the more caffeine it contains, according to Consumer Reports. For example, a 16-ounce cup of Dunkin’ Donuts Dark Roast has 513 mg—the most of any brand its researchers tested.
Coffee isn’t the only source of highly concentrated caffeine: Energy drinks, teas, gum, and other products also contain it.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children get no more than 100 mg of caffeine per day. That’s equivalent to about four cans of cola and excessive caffeine intake for a child.
What is caffeine, and where does it come from?
Caffeine is a white crystalline xanthine alkaloid and a stimulant drug. You can find it in tea leaves, coffee beans, the kola nut plant, yerba maté, guarana berry fruits, mate leaf, cacao bean shells.
Other sources of caffeine include chocolate and cocoa-containing products, certain medications (such as cold remedies), some pain relief medications, and sugar-free gums.
Aside from being a stimulant, caffeine is also an ergogenic aid – helping to improve physical performance in athletes.
It has been proven to increase endurance, promotes faster recovery after intense exercise, and help athletes train at high intensity for longer periods.
Caffeine’s Therapeutic Uses and Health Benefits
- Stimulant. Caffeine is a stimulant that can combat chronic fatigue, improve sleep quality in people who experience insomnia, and reduce daytime sleepiness in people with narcolepsy.
- Reduce the risk of developing some diseases. It may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes or Parkinson’s disease and can help to relieve headaches.
- Improves your performance. Caffeine can also temporarily improve mental and physical performance in endurance athletes, improving things such as concentration, time to exhaustion, and muscle-glycogen usage.
- Analgesic. It is also an effective analgesic (pain reliever) in small doses, with no serious risks associated with it.
- Diuretic. Caffeine is also a diuretic (it makes you have to pee), which can be useful for treating certain types of kidney stones, hypertension (high blood pressure), and anemia.
Side effects of drinking too much caffeine
High doses of caffeine can lead to:
- Dehydration (potentially serious)
- Heart arrhythmias and irregular heartbeat.
- Tremors and irritability.
- High blood pressure.
- Anxiety attacks (particularly in individuals with pre-existing mental disorders)
- Muscle twitches.
- Rhabdomyolysis (breakdown of skeletal muscle).
It can also be lethal, as the amount of caffeine needed to kill a human is estimated to be between 10 and 19 grams (equivalent in weight to a couple of chocolate bars).
However, some reports suggest that 20% or more of American teenagers have been ingesting highs doses (600-1000 mg per day) of caffeine.
But the most common side effects of caffeine are:
First, you don’t get enough sleep.
The effects of just a few nights of disrupted sleep can wreak havoc on your alertness and performance. So use caffeine carefully if you’re also drinking less than enough coffee throughout the days.
For example, consuming caffeine when you are exhausted may not be an option. Much like hydration, caffeine is a stimulant that provides energy if you’re unable to continue for the day. Additionally, caffeine prevents sleepiness and keeps us from falling asleep quicker. But prolonged use of cigarettes can have adverse effects on one’s health and worsen conditions.
Even a little makes you jittery.
The amount of caffeine you consume affects how your body reacts to each dose. If you’re not a big coffee drinker, even tiny amounts may cause negative side effects like restlessness and sleep issues.
Consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening may keep you awake at night. When your body absorbs caffeine, it takes from 5 to 6 hours. Therefore, eating with a coffee early in the day can promote restful sleep.
Drinking too much coffee can lead to fear, anxiety, and a racing heart. This is because drinking coffee stimulates the central nervous system, which increases adrenaline levels in your body.
Too much caffeine can cause headaches throughout the day as your body feels withdrawal symptoms. The only exception is when a moderate amount of caffeine starts to wear off and helps relieve the headache.
Symptoms of too much caffeine
Caffeine, which is used as a diuretic and thought to cause dehydration in the past, does not add more strain on the body to make up for lost water intake when consumed. However, caffeine’s stimulant properties may increase a person’s blood pressure and heart rate.
Drinking too much caffeine can leave one highly irritable, even when consuming a normal amount of it. The combination of increased blood pressure and an overworked heart could be the cause of this condition. In addition, some people have said that they’ve ended up throwing up all night after drinking coffee if they consumed more than four cups in 24 hours.
This can happen when damage to muscle fibers leaks into the bloodstream, affecting your kidneys.
Caffeine withdrawal is a real thing, and it can be both physical, mental. You may experience the following symptoms: headaches, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, tremors decreased concentration.
Apart from the side effects of your caffeine intake, one may be dependent on daily use. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms start 12 hours after the last dose and can range from 2 to 9 days.
Although caffeine isn’t a traditional ‘depressant,’ you may want to take some dopamine from the highs that it provides.
Caffeine use is potentially harmful, but it doesn’t have negative side effects like drug addiction.
Although caffeine use doesn’t usually lead to addiction problems of the kind you’d expect from other drugs, it can be harmful if taken in higher doses than recommended and over long periods.
Frequently asked questions about caffeine.
How long should I avoid caffeine before bed?
The caffeine in your bloodstream will last at least three hours before you go to bed. For example, 90% of people consumed caffeine from 12:15 until 6.
Some researchers recommend that people do not drink coffee before bed. Many studies have shown that even six hours of consumption may cause insomnia and shortens sleeping for nearly an hour.
Nearly one-third of the population in America, which spends much less time sleeping than most people worldwide, drink their first coffee of the day at 5 p.m.
Nearly 70% of Americans consume caffeine from other sources before they drink it in coffee, mostly among people who are sensitive to caffeine.
How long does caffeine stay in your system?
Current research in caffeine half-life estimates the average person’s breakdown to 5-6 hours, but tolerance and DNA can affect this number significantly. When people overindulge in caffeine, it does not just break down within your body.
Some withdrawal symptoms, such as fatigue or irritability, can disappear with a little water, but that usually isn’t enough.
Some people find it helpful to have an early cutoff period for caffeine so they can disrupt their sleep hours later in the night. And I think this is why some people drink coffee earlier than you might expect.
Caffeine can be harmful if taken in higher doses than recommended and over long periods. However, caffeine, which is used as a diuretic and thought to cause dehydration in the past, does not add more strain on the body to make up for lost water intake when consumed.
The caffeine content of coffee may vary depending on how it’s brewed but generally ranges from 95-200mg per 8oz cup (or around 50-100mg/cup).
Consuming 200 mg of caffeine or less should have no negative effects on your health while consuming 400 mg could lead to side effects such as headaches and irritability.
If you are sensitive to caffeine, then consumption at any level will likely produce these symptoms.