Have you ever thought about how much caffeine you consume a day? Do you drink several cups of coffee each morning? Do you grab a soda on your lunch break? All of this caffeine being taken into our bodies adds up. In some cases, it can even become dangerous. What’s a safe amount of caffeine per day? According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 400 milligrams of caffeine, which is equal to 4 cups of coffee, is considered a safe daily caffeine limit for a healthy adult.1
Let’s take a more in-depth look at caffeine and what’s considered to be safe amounts. This will help you enjoy your coffee, tea, and other beverages without worrying about doing something that could be harmful to your health.
What Is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance found in fruit leaves, plants, and nuts. This bitter substance stimulates the central nervous system to help us stay awake and more alert when we need a pick-me-up. When consumed, caffeine is absorbed from the stomach into the bloodstream. It then makes its path around the body, including to the brain, where it does the majority of its job.
Adenosine, a neurotransmitter, helps relax the brain. This neurotransmitter is what makes us feel tired throughout our day. When caffeine is consumed it attaches to the adenosine receptors in the brain and blocks their effects. The overall benefit is feeling less tired after drinking or eating something with caffeine and being able to continue your day more alert.
How Much Caffeine Can You Have?
With 400 milligrams of caffeine being the recommended daily amount for an adult, does this mean everyone should ingest that amount per day? The answer is no. Sensitivities can vary from person to person. It is also important to keep your body weight and the prescribed medications you take in mind when consuming caffeine. All these things factor in when it comes to caffeine levels and how they’ll affect your body.
If you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to become pregnant, you should lower the amount of caffeine you consume. The Mayo Clinic suggests no more than 200 milligrams per day in these situations and even less if at all possible. Unfortunately, when it comes to children, it is best to avoid caffeine during their younger years. For teens, however, roughly 100 milligrams per day seems to be a safe medium that allows them to enjoy a bit of chocolate or a coffee beverage now and then.
The Benefits of Caffeine
When consumed within safe parameters, caffeine has health benefits no one can deny. Let’s take a look at a few of these health benefits below so you can better understand caffeine and the proper use of this stimulant.
Improved Brain Function and Mood
As we mentioned above, caffeine blocks adenosine levels in the brain and helps a person stay more alert. This isn’t the only benefit caffeine can have on the brain, however. Most people feel a boost in their mood when they drink or eat caffeine. It’s very similar to the movies when people eat chocolate when they’re upset and hoping to feel better. The caffeine inside boosts brain alertness and according to some studies, helps fight depression.
Caffeine has been associated with weight loss for quite some time. Most over-the-counter supplements that are offered to help people shed extra pounds include caffeine. Some even contain large doses. This is due to the belief that caffeine can help you burn calories and boost your metabolism.
Another way caffeine can be used to control weight is through exercise. The energy boost caffeine provides may allow you to work out longer and with less fatigue. When battling to lose weight or simply trying to stay in shape, this additional boost can be quite beneficial.
Heart Disease and Diabetes
Upon hearing that caffeine is a stimulant, you may instantly think that means it is bad for the heart. But that isn’t necessarily true. Studies have been conducted to learn more about caffeine and the heart. In one, the results show that men and women who drink coffee daily show a reduced chance of heart disease.
Studies have also been conducted to learn more about caffeine and diabetes. In these reports, it appears that people who consume caffeine show a 29-30% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. When it comes to diabetes and blood sugar levels, however, it is important to consider how you ingest caffeine. Sugary sodas and energy drinks could counteract the benefits in these studies thanks to the high amounts of sugar added to the drinks.
The Side Effects of Caffeine
In most cases, unless you suffer from a sensitivity to caffeine, the symptoms of consuming too much are minimal and often decrease when the caffeine is out of your system.
- Frequent urination
- Increased heart rate
If you experience these side effects and notice you’re having one too many sodas a day, it may be best to cut back a bit. The symptoms should subside, and you’ll be left more aware of the amount of caffeine you can tolerate a day.
Is Caffeine Dangerous?
Unfortunately, there are situations where caffeine can be very dangerous. Pure caffeine or products with a high concentration of caffeine can pose serious risks. Caffeine powder and caffeine supplements such as diet pills are among the leaders in this department. While it is rare, caffeine overdose is possible. To avoid this type of situation, it is best to avoid pure caffeine and closely monitor the levels of caffeine in any diet pills or supplements you may take.
While 400 milligrams of caffeine per day may seem like a large amount, it’s relatively easy to ingest these levels through a few cups of coffee, tea, or sodas per day. To ensure you’re staying healthy and only consuming safe amounts of caffeine, keep tabs on how much is inside your favorite foods and beverages. This will help you enjoy the things you love while ensuring you reap the benefits and avoid the dangers of caffeine.
Featured Image Credit: Kira auf der Heide, Unsplash