Millions of people consume caffeine daily and it is the most widely used stimulant drug in the U.S. The most commonly consumed items that contain caffeine are coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and over-the-counter medication.

Where did it come from? Caffeine was originally found in the coffee bean and then found to be naturally occurring in several other plants. Coffee then became widely used after the Revolutionary War. However, with the high demand of caffeine today, it is now synthetically made and put into many products such as sodas, medications, gum, snacks, and even in beauty products.

What are the effects? Depending on the person, caffeine can have mild effects or severe effects. Some mild effects are increased energy, increased urination, heartburn, and increased blood pressure. Some severe side effects are shakiness, insomnia, headaches, anxiety, and dependency. The factors that contribute to these effects are caffeine sensitivity, weight, age, medication usage, and health conditions.

How much is too much? Adults can most likely ingest up to 400mg of caffeine (four cups of coffee) safely. Even though some people experience severe effects. This can lead to a constant cycle of losing sleep due to high caffeine intake, and taking in high amounts of caffeine due to lack of sleep. It is not recommended to exceed 400mg of caffeine a day.

How to reduce caffeine intake? An abrupt decrease in caffeine may cause withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches, fatigue, irritability and difficulty focusing on tasks. Start by keeping track of how much caffeine you normally consume in a day, then reduce the amount slowly over time.

Quick Tips to help you Cut Down on Caffeine

  • Pay attention and remember how much caffeine you are eating and drinking.
  • Gradually remove caffeine from your life by having one fewer caffeinated item each day
  • Make the switch to decaffeinated beverages/herbal teas
  • Check labels on how much caffeine is in products to have a better understanding of what you’re consuming

Sources: Mayo Clinic, Medline Plus. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only.  For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.