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Caffeine: How much is Safe?

Nine out of 10 Americans consume some type of caffeine on a regular basis. It is one of the most popular behavior-altering drugs. After consuming caffeine, it takes less than 1 hour to feel its effect: more alert, more energetic and perhaps being more productive.

Moderate doses of caffeine, 200-300 mg daily, which may be found in 2 cups of brewed coffee, usually are not harmful. Most sodas contain 22-55 mg per 12 oz. Energy drinks can range from 75-160 mg per 8-16 oz serving. A Starbucks coffee Grande has 259 mg per 16 oz serving.

When consuming too much caffeine, 500 mg or more daily, in some it may cause irritability, restlessness, abnormal heart rhythms, anxiety and headaches. Studies also show caffeine can hinder calcium absorption, leading to bone health issues in the future. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may want to limit your consumption of caffeine. Certain medications and herbal supplements can interact with caffeine causing unwanted side effects. Talk with your doctor if side effects occur.

Caffeine is very habit-forming and can be difficult to stop. An abrupt decrease can cause unpleasant withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, irritability and nervousness. Usually after several days, these symptoms will resolve. It is best to gradually decrease the amount of caffeine you consume. For example, drink 1 less cup of coffee or 1 less soda each day.

If you drink tea, decrease the brew time. By doing this, caffeine withdrawals are lessened and are more tolerable. Be mindful of over-the-counter medications you may be taking such as pain relievers or headache medications which can contain 65-130 mg of caffeine in one dose.

Caffeine is a part of most adult’s daily routine. Often it does not pose a health threat but stay in tune with symptoms that may develop due to caffeine overload.

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