Mayo Clinic News Network
You probably know that tea and coffee contain caffeine, but did you know it also can be found in other drinks, food and some medications?
When it comes to caffeine consumption, if you depend on caffeine to help you concentrate, you’re not alone. Studies have shown that about 90% of U.S. adults consume a form of caffeine every day.
How much is too much?
Caffeine content in beverages varies widely. For most adults, consuming up to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily does not have adverse side effects. Depending on the type of beverage, that can be roughly four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two energy shot drinks.
While consuming some caffeine is OK, too much can cause side effects, including rapid heartbeat, headache, high blood pressure, insomnia and muscle tremors.
Adolescents and young adults must be cautious when drinking caffeine, and children should avoid it altogether. People sensitive to caffeine’s effects or take certain medications should avoid consuming too much caffeine. Those who are pregnant, want to become pregnant or are breastfeeding should talk with their doctor about consuming caffeine.
If you reach for different types of beverages throughout the day, you may be drinking more caffeine than you realize. Having a cup of coffee or tea with breakfast, a soda in the afternoon and a piece of chocolate after supper means that caffeine is a part of your daily eating habits.
Some of the most common sources of caffeine are coffee, tea, soda, chocolate and medication.
Caffeine also can hide in ingredients that are less recognizable. Some energy drinks, for instance, have additives that contain caffeine to enhance the effects of the drink. Recognizing the names of these additives can help you avoid consuming more caffeine than you intend, so be sure to check labels before you buy.
They include choline, ginseng, glucuronolactone, guarana, kola nut, malic acid, maltodextrin, niacin, pantothenic acid, taurine, theanine, tyrosine and yerba mate.
Pure caffeine in powder or liquid form can be particularly dangerous. The Food and Drug Administration has warned that high levels of caffeine can cause serious health problems. One teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine is the same as drinking 28 cups of coffee, significantly more than the recommended level.
Kicking a caffeine habit
If caffeine becomes more of a hindrance than a help, consider cutting back. This can be challenging because an abrupt decrease can cause withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and difficulty focusing.
To ease caffeine withdrawal symptoms, try these tips:
>> Be aware of and track how much caffeine you consume throughout the day.
>> Cut back gradually so your body gets accustomed to lower levels of caffeine.
>> Check products you use for caffeine, such as over-the-counter pain relievers.
>> Shorten the brew time of tea to cut down on the caffeine content, or choose an herbal tea that doesn’t contain caffeine.
>> Switch to decaffeinated beverages, which have a similar taste but much less caffeine than their full-strength counterparts.
Contact your primary care provider for guidance or evaluation if you’re struggling with persistent or severe caffeine withdrawal symptoms.