(TREE/NEXSTAR ) — Maybe you’re one of the 90% of American adults who drink caffeinated beverages on a daily basis, or you just like a little pick-me-up every now and then — either way, you know that the world’s most popular stimulant can definitely be very strong. But are you getting too much of it?
While doctors say caffeine doesn’t usually directly lead to health problems, it’s important to be aware of the side effects.
“The (U.S. Department of Agriculture), (Food and Drug Administration), both of those organizations will recommend that 400 milligrams is generally considered safe for most adults,” said Shanti Apello, a registered dietitian with Blue Cross Blue Shield. of Michigan State.
For reference, Apello said an 8-ounce cup of coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine — a cup of tea has 50 mg, and a 12-ounce cola has 50 mg. Herbal tea does not contain caffeine.
Apello said caffeine has a half-life of four to six hours, and some people are more sensitive to it than others.
“Once you consume caffeine, half of that caffeine will still be in your system after that time,” Apello said. And people aged 65 and older process caffeine even more slowly.
For young people, extreme amounts of caffeine, such as powdered caffeine, can be dangerous and lead to emergency room visits for heart problems.
“If you’re a tea drinker, switching to herbal teas can be a really good idea. It’s also a good idea to just be mindful of how that caffeine builds up throughout the day,” Apello said.
While caffeine can be used safely, health experts still urge caution if users notice any unwanted side effects, such as gastrointestinal problems, headaches or difficulty falling asleep. How Princeton University says users may want to consider reducing the amount of caffeine they get.
How much is 400 milligrams of caffeine exactly?
Mayo Clinic explains that the safe level of 400 milligrams is:
- Four cups of coffee
- 10 cans of cola
- 2 energy drinks
meanwhile, Harvard University data shows that 16-ounce energy drinks (which are standard sizes for these types) can pack a 170-mg punch. While the caffeine content varies by brand, you want to be sure how much you’re consuming if it’s an energy drink.