Caffeine: How much is too much?

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Coffee is one of the most popular drinks worldwide, but it’s certainly not the only drink that contains caffeine. If this substance was bad for us, let’s just say that we wouldn’t be concerned about the increasing population of our planet. Regular consumption of caffeine even offers several health benefits, although just like anything…..too much is definitely not good for you.

Coffee vintage artCaffeine health benefits

Some might like the taste of coffee, but everyone loves the energy boost they get from it in the morning. Caffeine does increase energy levels and it even improves our ability to focus. But caffeine’s collection of benefits broadens for those that consume it regularly.

Studies say that moderate caffeine intake on a regular basis can boost our mood and even improve long and short-term memory. There’s also some evidence that caffeine can lower the risks of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer and Parkinson.

Caffeine is also used as a treatment for apnea of prematurity (a breathing disorder of premature infants) and to prevent bronchopulmonary dysplasia in infants. Apparently it can also increase muscle performance but only in moderate doses. High doses of caffeine can have the opposite effect.

Too much coffeePotential health risks of caffeine

While caffeine is a stimulant of the nervous system and it can give us an energy boost when we need it the most, it can also affect the normal sleep pattern since fatigue can occur after the energy boosting effect wears off.

Consuming more than 250 mg of caffeine per day can overstimulate the nervous system leading to a series of unpleasant symptoms such as heart palpitations, irritability, nervousness, headaches and insomnia.

Caffeine also has a mild diuretic effect and it caused concerns that it could cause dehydration. However, studies revealed that regular consumption of caffeine increases resistance to its diuretic role. More than 400-500 mg of caffeine can lead to caffeine overdose. The symptoms are somewhat similar to other stimulants and include insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, muscle twitching, irregular heart beat and in large overdoses it can trigger depression, mania, disorientation and even psychosis.

Nevertheless, death by coffee is extremely hard to achieve. The average person would have to drink somewhere between 80 to 100 cups of coffee (150-200 mg of caffeine/kg of body mass). Even so, ingesting that much caffeine is possible using caffeine pills.

Experts say, you can get all of caffeine’s benefits by drinking 1-2 cups of coffee every day, without risking your health (unless you already have a medical condition that caffeine may interfere with). Also, pay attention to the other beverages you are drinking since there are so many of them that contain caffeine these days. Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, black tea, energy drinks….the list is long and you might be drinking more caffeine that you’re aware of.