February 2, 2004
Is caffeine really bad
"The U.S. Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) classified caffeine as Generally Recognized
As Safe (GRAS) in 1958. A more recent review 'found no evidence
to show that the use of caffeine in carbonated beverages would render
these products injurious to health.'
"The American Medical Association (AMA) has a similar position
on caffeine's safety, stating that 'Moderate tea or coffee drinkers
probably need have no concern for their health relative to their
caffeine consumption provided other lifestyle habits (diet, alcohol
consumption) are moderate, as well.'
"Most experts agree that moderation and common sense are the
keys for consuming caffeine-containing foods and beverages."
common sense are the keys..."
"Higher doses of caffeine
can cause anxiety, dizziness, headaches, and the jitters and can
interfere with normal sleep. Very high doses of caffeine -
if you were to drink many cups of coffee in a day or take a
box of No-Doz - would be harmful to the body. Caffeine
is addictive and may cause withdrawal symptoms - such as severe
headaches, muscle aches, temporary depression, and irritability
- for those who abruptly stop consuming it....The amount of caffeine
needed to affect each person differs. Caffeine sensitivity refers
to the amount of caffeine that will produce an effect in someone.
This amount varies from person to person."
How much is safe for you?
How much is too much?
With some medical conditions,
such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, a person's body may be
so sensitive that doctors advise: "Don't drink coffee or sodas
that have caffeine in them," and "Don't eat foods or drink
liquids that have chocolate..."
Even in those without such
conditions, "Caffeine exhibits a number of biological effects
resulting from its diuretic and stimulant properties. Research has
shown that some sensitive individuals experience side effects such
as insomnia, headaches, irritability and nervousness. As with any
substance, there can be numerous other contributing factors, but
Canada's Guidelines to Healthy Eating advises consumers that limiting
caffeine is a wise precaution."
If you are experiencing
negative side effects, chances are you are ingesting more caffeine
than is right for you. Some people might be experiencing side effects
and be unaware that caffeine could be the cause. Others might not
even be aware that they are experiencing the side effects.
"Dehydration is a
common side effect of drinking too much caffeine. Although you may
think you're getting plenty of liquids, caffeine works against
the body in two ways: it has a dehydrating effect on the body's
cells and increases the need to urinate. It's particularly
important for active teens who play sports to drink noncaffeinated
beverages each day to avoid dehydration. Finally, large amounts
of caffeine may cause the body to lose calcium and potassium, causing
sore muscles and delayed recovery times after exercise."
Other factors that might
affect how much caffeine is okay for you include your age and weight.
"A recent review undertaken
by Health Canada has considered the numerous studies dealing with
caffeine and its potential health effects. It has re-confirmed that
for the average adult, moderate daily caffeine intake at dose levels
of 400-450 mg/day is not associated with any adverse effects. Data
has shown, however, that women of childbearing age and children
may be at greater risk from caffeine. Consequently, as a precautionary
measure, Health Canada has developed additional guidelines for these
two groups. The following recommended maximum caffeine intake levels
are based on the most current research available....
- 6 years 45 mg/day
7 - 9 years 62.5 mg/day
10 - 12 years 85 mg/day
*Using the recommended intake of 2.5 milligrams per kilogram of
body weight per day and based on average body weights of children..."
So how much caffeine is
in what you eat and drink?
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
- Coffee brewed using the 'drip method' contains an average of
115 mg per 5 ounce serving--keep in mind that if you fill up your
coffee mug in the morning, you could be drinking two or more servings
in that one 'cup' of coffee.
- Soft drinks average 36 mg per 12 ounce can.
- Milk chocolate averages 6 mg per ounce.
- Dark chocolate, semi-sweet averages 20 mg per ounce.
Questions of the Week:
How can you know how much caffeine is in what you eat and drink?
How much caffeine (if any) is a safe amount for your body? How can
you tell if you are getting too much from what you eat and drink
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum