How Much Caffeine is Too Much to Drink?


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Caffeine is a daily part of life for many Americans.

coffee-cup-120516Almost 85% of the adult population drink at least one caffeinated beverage a day, according to data.

Latinos drink the most—67% of all Latino adults drink at least one a day, NBC Latino reports.

But how much caffeine is safe?

March is National Caffeine Awareness Month, a good time to learn about this popular alkaloid commonly found in coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and now found in unexpected places such as ice creams and over-the-counter pain medicines.

Caffeine, which acts as a stimulant on the central nervous system, is found naturally in over 60 plants, like coffee beans, tea leaves, and in cacao (the base for chocolate). It also can be produced synthetically.

Moderate consumption has some positive benefits:

  • Caffeine can stimulate thermogenesis, which burns through more fat cells faster;
  • Caffeine and other compounds in coffee can help prevent colorectal and liver cancer; and
  • Caffeine lowers the risk for type A diabetes.

The official U.S. dietary guidelines suggest that it is safe for adults to consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, “roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two energy shot drinks,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

Caffeine is not a good idea for kids. Adolescents should not have more than 100 mg a day.

Heavy daily caffeine use (more than 500-600 mg a day) may cause side effects, such as insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, upset stomach, fast heartbeat, and muscle tremors, according to the Mayo Clinic.

The overall average U.S. intake of caffeine is 168 milligrams per person. This ranks No. 18 in the world, far less per day than the largest consumers of caffeine—The Netherlands (414).

“If you’re like most adults, caffeine is a part of your daily routine,” the Mayo Clinic website reports. “And most often it doesn’t pose a health problem. But be mindful of those situations in which you need to curtail your caffeine habit.”

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