Many people rely on a daily dose of coffee to get the morning started right. While caffeine can have some health benefits, most people know that too much is detrimental to health. But how much is too much? Here’s what to know about caffeine intake and health.
First: the good news
Research has shown that caffeine is safe for most people in small doses. The ingredient can boost mood, metabolism, and physical performance. That extra morning energy is not a placebo; caffeine really can help people perk up. As long as people stay within the recommended intake, for most, caffeine is not harmful.
What is too much?
For most people, up to 400mg daily of caffeine is considered safe. That’s the equivalent of about 4 cups of coffee or 2 energy drinks per day. Keep in mind, however, that the actual specific caffeine content of a beverage can vary significantly. In coffee alone, the caffeine content can fluctuate based on the variety of beans, the roasting, and the serving size. Some people may fill up a mug and think this is one cup of coffee when the mug holds 16 ounces.
What if I go over the limit?
Going over the recommended amount can lead to headaches, nausea, irritability, insomnia, or even muscle tremors or an accelerated heart rate. The substance can also worsen symptoms in people with anxiety and cause negative interactions with specific medications or supplements. Coffee specifically can also worsen digestive issues or symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Who should avoid caffeine?
There are some groups of people who should limit caffeine further. Children and adolescents should avoid caffeine altogether. Teenagers should limit intake of coffee. Additionally, women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding should generally limit intake to under 200mg daily. A doctor can provide specific recommendations for each woman.
How can I cut back?
For many people, caffeine intake can creep up subtly. To cut back, take meticulous notice of food labels and start paying more attention to the added up cups of coffee, sodas, and energy drinks. Decrease intake gradually. For example, try taking out one soda per day or switching to decaf after the first cup of coffee. Decreasing consumption slowly can help to mitigate the effects of withdrawal, such as intense headaches. For more information about caffeine intake and recommendations, speak with a family medicine healthcare provider.