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Caffeine: How Much is Too Much?
Are You Drinking Too Much Caffeine?
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Oddly, I never really consumed too much caffeine until my late 20’s. I grew up in a house with two parents who were tea drinkers. While I enjoyed tea, I never really got into a habit of drinking it regularly. I started drinking coffee socially when I was working at a hospital. Starbucks was across the street and it provided a much needed respite and a jolt of energy to complete a counseling and teaching schedule that I loved, but was very draining. Drinking coffee started as a social break from work then became a habit. And by the time I had two toddlers running underfoot, I was drinking what I knew was a little too much caffeine for me and started to make changes to reduce my caffeine intake.
But, how much is too much caffeine and how do you know if you need to make a change? I looked into the latest science on caffeine to spill the beans or tea ;).
The basics: Caffeine, as many already know, is a stimulant. It is found in beverages like coffee, tea, energy drinks, decaffeinated beverages and foods like chocolate.
Caffeine impacts the body in several different ways, including:
Boosts energy & mental alertness
Improves physical performance
Mild increases in heart rate and blood pressure
Aggravates the production of stomach acid
Excites the central nervous system, which for some results in feeling anxious, jittery and irritable
The impacts of caffeine on the body often depend on the amount consumed and a person’s sensitivity. Additionally, some individuals take medications that could make them more sensitive to caffeine’s impact on the body.
The Food and Drug Administration recommends that for healthy adults, they should aim for no more than 400 mg/daily of caffeine. That’s equivalent to about 4 or 5 (8oz) cups of coffee. The problem is that many fill their 16oz coffee mug and consider that one cup of coffee. In reality, it is two servings, so it’s important to just be aware. Additionally, factors like where coffee beans or tea leaves were grown, how beans or leaves were processed, and how the beverage product is prepared, all impact the caffeine content.
So, how do you know if you are overdoing it with caffeine consumption?
Some potential signs you might be over consuming caffeine include:
If you think you are dealing with negative impacts of over consuming caffeine, start by reducing your consumption gradually. Talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms just to ensure you aren’t dealing with another health concern. Each person has different needs and sensitivity to caffeine, so make sure you are making choices that work best for you and your lifestyle.
Check out our quick-reference chart to evaluate the caffeine content in some common beverages.