Caffeine

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Caffeine is found in leaves, seeds, or fruits of over 63 plants.  Caffeine is used to flavor foods and drinks.

What are safe amounts of caffeine?

Adults

  • Maximum of 400 milligrams (mg) a day recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This amount is NOT generally associated with dangerous, negative effects.

Children

  • No known safe level. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the consumption of caffeine and other stimulants by children and adolescents.

Drinks and Foods with Caffeine

  • Coffee (12 oz): 260 mg
  • Energy drinks (8 oz): 47-163 mg
  • Espresso (1 oz): 64 mg
  • Hot tea (8 oz): 48 mg
  • Cola (12 oz): 48 mg

How does caffeine affect the body?

  • Caffeine is a diuretic. It is a substance that causes your body to process fluids faster. People eating or drinking caffeine should increase intake of fluids, like water.
  • Caffeine can be habit-forming.  Some people may be more sensitive to caffeine and may feel stimulated after only one serving. 
  • People who consume caffeine should watch their intake of calcium. Make sure caffeine foods and drinks do not replace foods and drinks that provide calcium. 
  • Too much caffeine intake may result in a poorly balanced diet in all food groups which may impact healthy growth and development.

Caffeine & Pregnancy

The March of Dimes recommends that pregnant women consume no more than 200 mg of caffeine per day. Some studies have shown an increased risk for miscarriage at amounts greater than 200 mg per day.

Caffeine & Breastfeeding

  • Caffeine consumed by the mother is also received by the baby, but moderate amounts do not harm either the mother or the baby. However, breastfed babies of women who drink more than two to three cups of coffee a day may become irritable or have difficulty sleeping. If you feel your infant becomes more irritable or fussy when you consume caffeine do not hesitate to cut back.
  • Energy drinks vary widely in caffeine, and some contain large amounts, so it’s best for breastfeeding mothers to avoid these or cautiously check labels.

How does caffeine affect children?

  • Caffeinated drinks often have empty calories, and kids who fill up on these kinds of drinks often do not get the vitamins and minerals they need. 
  • Too much soda can mean children are not getting the calcium they need from drinks like milk that help to build strong bones and teeth.
  • Often times kids drink caffeine that is found in regular soft drinks, like soda. Kids who drink one or more sweetened soft drinks per day are 60% more likely to become obese.

How to Reduce Caffeine Intake

  • Quit slowly.  Stopping “cold turkey” may cause headaches and irritability.
  • Each day reduce the amount of caffeine you drink or eat.  This should help avoid the feeling of withdrawal.
  • Choose decaffeinated or caffeine-free drinks and foods.
  • Did you know decaffeinated doesn’t mean there is no caffeine? That’s right! Decaf coffees and teas have less caffeine than their regular counterparts, but they still contain some caffeine. For example, decaf coffee typically has 2-15 milligrams in an 8-ounce cup. If you react strongly to caffeine in a negative way, you may want to avoid these beverages altogether.

Sources: KidsHealth, FDA, eatright.org, eatright.org

This post was last updated on December 18th, 2019 at 9:50 AM

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