Are You Drinking Too Much Caffeine?
For most people, making coffee while half asleep is just part of the morning routine. By the time you walk out the door, travel mug in hand, you’ve probably already had a cup of coffee. And while you’re en route to class or work, most people around you have already visited the local coffee shop for their morning pick me up as well. By mid afternoon, you’re more than ready for another cup to get you through the last haul of the day. But have you had too much for your share?
How much is too much caffeine?
Caffeine is the most highly accepted and used psychoactive stimulant, seeing that about 98% of North Americans consume caffeine in some form every day.
While most people consume most of their caffeine through coffee, many others obtain caffeine through tea, soda, energy drinks, and chocolate. A moderate amount of caffeine consumption is between 200 to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, equivalent to two-four cups of coffee or a few energy drinks.
What most people forget to realize is that when consumed frequently, a tolerance for caffeine can begin to appear. You notice that it takes more to get you through the day. No longer does that single cup in the morning jolt you out of a morning haze. An increase in your caffeine intake can lead to caffeine abuse, where each day you fight the need to satisfy your dependency.
Blame It On Your Genes
A recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health and the National Cancer Institute found that people are genetically predisposed to being more sensitive to caffeine than others.
The study discovered that people who consume high amounts of caffeine have the ability to break down caffeine quicker in their DNA. Since their bodies metabolize caffeine faster than those who drink less caffeine, they constantly need more to assuage the buzz, about 40 milligrams more. Even though an expecting mother doesn’t consume caffeine, she can still pass down the genes that have a higher tolerance to it.
Listen to Your Body
Everyone’s tolerance level to caffeine is different and the effects it has on people also vary. You don’t need to consume more than 500 milligrams of caffeine per day to notice the effects it has on your body and mind.
Here are some warning signs to look out for:
- the jitters
- anxiety levels increase
- lack of focus and attention
- high blood pressure
- caffeine induced insomnia
- suicide (rare, and in severe cases)
How To Manage Your Caffeine Consumption
Life is tough. With the growing demands of work and school, caffeine may be the way to keep you on your A-game. But let’s cross our fingers that you’re not juggling coffee and soda throughout the day. Throw in an energy drink into the mix, and you’ve got yourself quite the caffeine high.
Most people think that a cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks has the same amount of caffeine. Not quite. Every product has a different amount of caffeine. See this very informative chart by the Center for Science in the Public Interest on caffeine to determine how much caffeine you’re putting into your body.
Cut back slowly. If you’ve noticed that you start to get caffeine withdrawal headaches, you may be moving at it too quickly. Reduce your caffeine intake by 5 ounces per day.
Make your own caffeinated beverage. Brew your own tea with low amounts of caffeine. Buy a soda machine and bottle your own fizzy goodness. That way you still get the power you need but in controlled doses.
Stay hydrated with caffeine alternatives. You’d be surprised at how dehydrated you were when you all you did was drink soda and coffee. Water with lemon can help you feel rejuvenated. Like the taste of coffee? Go decaf. Try some herbal teas. There’s no reason for you to feel like there are no other options out there.
The Bottom Line: Only you can decide how much is too much. Do what is best for you body and your health. Consume caffeine in moderation.