Caffeine – in appropriate amounts – is known to keep you alert, have health benefits and can lead to temporary improvements in concentration and performance. But it can also do harm. How much of this substance is too much? And on the other hand, what can be done about withdrawal symptoms?
You probably know that coffee and tea contain caffeine, but did you know that it is also found in other drinks, foods and some medications? A recent article from the renowned Mayo Clinic (USA) compiled some informative facts about caffeine consumption that will surprise many.
How much caffeine is too much?
The caffeine content in drinks varies greatly. For most adults, consuming up to 400 milligrams of caffeine daily has no adverse side effects. Depending on the type of drink, this could be around four cups of brewed coffee, ten cans of cola or two energy drinks.
However, it is worth mentioning here that the sugar contained in such drinks can have negative effects on health.
While consuming some caffeine is fine, too much of this substance can cause side effects such as rapid heartbeat (heart palpitations), headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, or muscle tremors.
Teens and young adults need to be careful when consuming caffeine, and children should avoid it altogether.
People who are sensitive to the effects of caffeine or are taking certain medications should also avoid consuming too much caffeine. Pregnant women, women trying to become pregnant or breastfeeding should talk to their healthcare team about caffeine consumption.
Common sources of caffeine
If you reach for different drinks throughout the day, you may be drinking more caffeine than you realize. With a cup of coffee or tea for breakfast, a soft drink in the afternoon, and a piece of chocolate after dinner, caffeine may be part of your daily eating habits.
Some of the most common sources of caffeine include coffee, tea, cocoa, soft and energy drinks, and certain medications.
Caffeine can also hide under lesser-known names. Energy drinks contain additives that contain caffeine to enhance the effects of the drink. Knowing these additives can help you avoid consuming more caffeine than you think. Therefore, be sure to check the labels before purchasing.
Common additives that contain caffeine or have a similar effect include L-cartinine, choline, ginseng, glucuronolactone, guarana, inosol, kola nut, malic acid, maltodextrin, niacin, pantothenic acid, taurine, theanine, tyrosine and mate.
Caffeine in powder or liquid form can be particularly dangerous. High levels of caffeine can cause serious health problems. One teaspoon of caffeine powder is equivalent to drinking 28 cups of coffee, which is significantly more than the recommended amount.
Relieve caffeine withdrawal symptoms
If caffeine is becoming more of a hindrance than a help, consider cutting back. This can be challenging because a sudden drop can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
Try the following tips to ease caffeine withdrawal symptoms:
- Pay attention and track how much caffeine you consume throughout the day.
- Reduce the amount gradually to allow your body to adjust to lower caffeine levels.
- Check the products you use for caffeine, such as over-the-counter pain relievers.
- Shorten the brewing time of the tea to reduce the caffeine content or choose an herbal tea without caffeine.
- Switch to decaffeinated drinks, which have a similar taste but contain much less caffeine than their full-strength counterparts.
If you are struggling with persistent or severe caffeine withdrawal symptoms, contact your healthcare provider for advice or evaluation. (ad)