If you are a coffee addict like me, there will inevitably be times when you question whether your caffeine consumption is normal, or even healthy.
Sometimes I lose count of how many cups of coffee I’ve had — and admittedly, this is not something I’m proud of. I understand that portion control is not everybody’s cup of tea (or cup of coffee), but sometimes, knowledge is power.
We all know that too much of a good thing is a bad thing, and unfortunately, that is especially true with coffee. Let’s look at how much caffeine is considered to be too much caffeine, and how to know when to cut back.
According to the medical practitioners at Mayo Clinic, the safest maximum caffeine level is 400 milligrams of caffeine daily. More than that, and you are putting yourself at risk. For reference, 400 mg is equivalent to about four cups of black coffee. How many cups have you consumed today? Before you judge the coffee addicts, please note that two energy drinks are also equivalent to the maximum daily limit. Also be aware that just because this is the “maximum” allowed amount, that does not mean it’s “recommended”; you won’t die drinking four cups of a coffee a day, but it may not be the most optimal for your health, either.
Debunking The ‘Headache’ Myth
If you thought that missing out on your daily cup of coffee is causing your terrible headaches, you’d be right — and this is not a good thing. A study by Universitair Medisch revealed that too much caffeine can result in dizziness, lightheatedness and headaches, but experiencing headaches while abstaining from coffee — especially if you’re a heavy coffee drinker — could be a warning sign of dependency. You may want to go cold-turkey for a week or two to see if your symptoms get better. In the meantime, try sipping on green tea, which has less caffeine that a cup of coffee and fewer of the ill effects.
Possible Effects On Your Health
Unfortunately, too much caffeine causes more harm than good. The side effects of too much caffiene include:
- Fast heartbeat
- Upset stomach
- Muscle tremors
The above will obviously vary, depending on the individual. However, even if you’ve had an extra cup or two than normal, don’t be alarmed. Coffee overdoses are rare, as caffeine overdoses more typically occur when taken with caffiene pills or supplements. (In these cases, you best go see a doctor.)
When To Cut Back
Despite the general rule above, there are certain circumstances where you need to cut down or completely stop consuming caffeine. One of the most obvious is while under certain medications, so always read the labels and prescription instructions. The side effects of combining such drugs with caffeine can be drastic and sometimes irreversible.
Pregnancy is yet another period of time where you should cut down on your caffeine intake, with doctors recommending less than 300 mg a day. If you suffer from other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, you may also want to cut back, but always consult with your doctor first.
While breastfeeding, it’s important to avoid caffeine altogether, as a significant percentage of what we ingest while breastfeeding carries on to your baby via your breast milk. Caffeine is also generally not considered healthy for children up until past adolescence, as caffeine can affect growing bones and negatively react with hormonal changes.
The ball is now in your court. You alone are in charge of what you consume, so drink responsibly. Stick to these general guidelines, and most importantly, listen to your body. If you’re feeling any of the above symptoms, or simply feeling a bit off, cut back on your caffeine intake and see if you notice a change.