Many folks start their day with a cup of coffee. In fact, according to the Food and Drug Administration, about 80% of us consume caffeine on a daily basis. Most people are aware of the stimulating effects of caffeine, but a lot of us do not know the other impacts of caffeinated beverages.
Caffeine is the most commonly used psychoactive drug worldwide. Coffee, tea and sodas are typical sources of the caffeine we ingest, for many of us regularly. But foods, nutritional supplements and medications may also be sources. For healthy adults, a moderate intake of up to 300mg per daily intake is considered “generally safe” by the FDA. The Dietary Guidelines of America recommends, however, women who are pregnant and those breast feeding consult their health care providers for advice on caffeine consumption. For children and adolescents, the American Academy of Pediatrics takes the stance that there is “no place for stimulant-containing energy drinks” for this population.
Federal guidelines require that the presence of caffeine in beverages or foods be listed as an ingredient. However, the amount of caffeine does not. To give you an idea as to how much caffeine is present, here are some common listings from www.medicinenet.com based on an eight ounce serving:
Brewed coffee 102-200mg. Brewed decaf 3-12mg.
Expresso (1 oz.) 30-90mg. Brewed black tea 40-70mg.
Brewed green tea 40-120mg. Cold brew coffee 110-200mg.
The following sodas contain the following based on a twelve ounce serving:
Pepsi One 57mg. Pepsi 39mg.
Diet Pepsi 37mg. Coke Zero 36mg.
Coca-Cola 34mg. Diet Coke 46mg.
Mountain Dew 54mg. Dr. Pepper 41mg.
IBC Root Beer 0mg Orange Crush 0mg.
A Monster Energy Drink contains 80mg caffeine in an eight ounce serving and has 27gm of sugar.
Many non-prescription medications that treat drowsiness, headaches and migraines will commonly have caffeine, from 60 to 200mg per dose.
The most commonly anticipated effect of caffeine is to stimulate the brain. Within minutes, there is increased alertness, and there may be a buffering of drowsiness and fatigue – our morning “wake-up”. Other positives include a decreased suicide risk as well as developing Alzheimer’s and dementia for those who consume caffeine on a regular basis. In addition is a reported decreased risk of oral and throat cancer.
According to the Mayo Clinic, there may be some negative effects may occur after 400mg of caffeine is consumed routinely (about four cups of coffee). If the brain is over-stimulated, there may be side effects of restlessness, anxiety, headaches or insomnia. Urine output is increased, producing a diuretic effect. There may be an increase of symptoms from those already suffering from bladder problems. Gastrointestinal stimulation may produce heartburn and diarrhea, with nausea and vomiting developing at higher doses of ingestion. Calcium absorption into the bones is decreased, increasing the risk of developing osteoporosis and fracture. The cardiac effects of caffeine increase heart rate, blood pressure and contribute to skipping beats.
Over time, your body becomes more tolerant to your daily dose. Should you develop adverse effects from your caffeine consumption or just be concerned to the long term effects as listed, you should taper down gradually. Headaches are the most common presentation of caffeine withdrawal. There are websites available providing information about caffeine from the FDA and Mayo Clinic, among others. How much caffeine are you consuming?
Bradford Croft, DO
East Flagstaff Family Medicine