Many rely on a morning coffee to get going, some need it for a 4pm buzz, while others use it to pull an all nighter. Most of us would consume some form of caffeine on a daily basis whether it be in tea, coffee, cola or chocolate. But how much is too much? Should you be ditching your daily dose?
Caffeine is a stimulant and in small amounts it can help boost alertness, energy levels and concentration. Some studies have even linked moderate amounts of caffeine with a reduction in Alzheimer’s disease and coffee with a reduction in stroke, Parkinson’s, dementia and some cancers.
But with caffeine you really can have too much of a good thing. In large amounts caffeine can cause heart palpitations, irritability, dizziness, shakiness, restlessness, headaches and insomnia. Caffeine intake should be monitored carefully in people who have high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, chronic headaches, acid reflux, osteoporosis, and people prone to stress, irritability and sleep problems, and during pregnancy.
Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. The effects of caffeine can depend on body size and weight, mood, general health and how much of it you have. Remember caffeine is a drug. The body can become reliant on it and you may find you need more of it to give you the same buzz. Going cold turkey or cutting back can result in withdrawal symptoms like headaches, irritability and fatigue.
Having caffeine while pregnant is a hotly debated topic. Some studies have been shown that caffeine increases the risk of miscarriage, birth complications and low birth weight. However, it is known that caffeine can easily pass across the placenta to the baby and babies can’t break down caffeine as effectively as adults. Best to stick to less than 200mg per day or avoid it all together when pregnant.
Want that extra buzz to get you through your next workout? Aim for 1-3mg of caffeine per kg body weight before or during your workout which can help reduce the perception of fatigue and increase the body’s ability to convert fat to energy. But always give it a test run first, caffeine before or during exercise can give some people upset stomachs.
So how much should we be having? While there are no official guidelines on upper limits of caffeine general consensus is best to stick with less than 400-500mg per day. Check out how much caffeine you have each day (average amounts):
Caffeine can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy balanced diet. Remember that everyone has different tolerance and reactions to caffeine and some with existing health complications may need to monitor their intake closely. But I can tell you one thing for sure – you wouldn’t want to run into me before I’ve had my morning coffee!