How much is too much? Coffee and caffeine poisoning

Posted on: 8:46 am, December 4, 2013, by

(CNN) – You’ve probably gotten the shakes from drinking too much coffee trying to stay up late to study or finish a project, but it turns out the side effects of overdosing on caffeine can be quite a bit worse than that.

Caffeine poisoning is kind of like food poisoning. There are ways to tell that you’ve got it.

According to the National Institutes of Health, some symptoms include:

  • breathing trouble
  • convulsions
  • fever
  • hallucinations
  • irregular heartbeat
  • dizziness

Some of those side effects are possible if you’re downing more than 500 to 600 milligrams a day, but it really isn’t hard to get there.

The best way to avoid it is to stick to the caffeine dosage doctors recommend, about 200 TO 300 milligrams per day.

So what does that mean?

It’s about two to four brewed cups of coffee. One cup of coffee is eight ounces, so two 21-ounce venti drip coffees from Starbucks every day is probably going to put you over the edge.

One 16-ounce can of Monster packs 240 milligrams of caffeine.

This has become a controversial topic.

Some scientists say you would have to drown in a pot of coffee before drinking enough of it to kill you. But some health group point to a surge in visits to the ER over just the last few years – specifically due to the increase in the consumption of energy drinks. The FDA has said it is taking another look at caffeinated food and plans to look in to how energy drinks affect young people.

If you are concerned about your caffeine intake, you may want to start checking the nutrition labels of your drinks, food and supplements — not just for the calorie count – but to see just how much caffeine you are really getting each day.




10 Surprising Facts About Caffeine [10 of 10]

By HEALTHY DRINKS | Sep 04, 2013
According to one FDA report, more than 98 percent of our caffeine intake comes from beverages. But those aren’t the only sources of caffeine: Certain foods, such as chocolate (though not much: a one-ounce milk chocolate bar contains only about 5mg of caffeine), and medications can also contain caffeine. Combining a pain reliever with caffeine can make it 40 percent more effective, the Cleveland Clinic reports, and can also help the body to absorb the medication more quickly.



10 Surprising Facts About Caffeine [9 of 10]

By HEALTHY DRINKS | Sep 04, 2013

9 of 10 But Americans Don’t Consume the Most

According to a recent BBC article, Finland takes the crown for the country with the highest caffeine consumption, with the average adult downing 400mg each day. Worldwide, 90 percent of people use caffeine in some form, the FDA reports.



10 Surprising Facts About Caffeine [8 of 10]

By HEALTHY DRINKS | Sep 04, 2013
According to the FDA, 80 percent of U.S. adults consume caffeine each day, with an individual intake of 200mg. To put that in real world terms, the average caffeine-consuming American drinks two five-ounce cups of coffee or about four sodas.

While another estimate puts the total closer to 300mg, both numbers fall within the definition of moderate caffeine consumption, which is between 200 and 300mg, according to the Mayo Clinic. Daily doses higher than 500 to 600mg are considered heavy and may cause problems such as insomnia, irritability, and a fast heartbeat, among others.


10 Surprising Facts About Caffeine [7 of 10]

By HEALTHY DRINKS | Sep 04, 2013

7 of 10 Not All Coffees Are Created Equal
When it comes to caffeine, all coffees are not created equal. According to a recent report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, popular brands varied widely when it comes to the jolt they provided. McDonald’s, for instance, had 9.1mg per fluid ounce, while Starbucks packed more than double that at a full 20.6mg. For more on those findings, click here.

10 Surprising Facts About Caffeine [6 of 10]

By HEALTHY DRINKS | Sep 04, 2013

6 of 10 Caffeine is Found in More Than 60 Plants
It’s not just coffee beans: Tea leaves, kola nuts (which flavor colas), and cocoa beans all contain caffeine. The stimulant is found naturally in the leaves, seeds, and fruits of a wide variety of plants. It can also be man-made and added to products.

10 Surprising Facts About Caffeine [5 of 10]

By HEALTHY DRINKS | Sep 04, 2013

5 of 10 Dark Roasts Have Less Caffeine Than Lighter Ones
A strong, rich flavor might seem to indicate an extra dose of caffeine, but the truth is that light roasts actually pack more of a jolt than dark roasts. The process of roasting burns off caffeine, NPR reports, meaning those looking for a less intense buzz might want to opt for the dark roast java at the coffee shop.

10 Surprising Facts About Caffeine [4 of 10]

By HEALTHY DRINKS | Sep 04, 2013


4 of 10 Energy Drinks Have Less Caffeine Than Coffee

By definition, one might reasonably think that energy drinks would pack loads of caffeine. But many popular brands actually contain considerably less than an old-fashioned cup of black coffee. An 8.4-ounce serving of Red Bull, for instance, has a relatively modest 76 to 80mg of caffeine, compared to the 95 to 200mg in a typical cup of coffee, the Mayo Clinic reports. What many energy drink brands frequently do have, though, is tons of sugar and hard-to-pronounce ingredients, so it’s best to stay clear of them anyway.



10 Surprising Facts About Caffeine [3 of 10]

By HEALTHY DRINKS | Sep 04, 2013

3 of 10 It Doesn’t Affect Everyone the Same

The body might process caffeine differently based on gender, race, and even birth control use. New York magazine previously reported: “Women generally metabolize caffeine faster than men. Smokers process it twice as quickly as nonsmokers do. Women taking birth control pills metabolize it at perhaps one-third the rate that women not on the Pill do. Asians may do so more slowly than people of other races.”

In The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World’s Most Popular Drug, authors Bennett Alan Weinberg and Bonnie K. Bealer hypothesize that a nonsmoking Japanese man drinking his coffee with an alcoholic beverage—another slowing agent—would likely feel caffeinated “about five times longer than an Englishwoman who smoked cigarettes but did not drink or use oral contraceptives.”




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10 Surprising Facts About Caffeine [2 of 10]

2 of 10 It Starts Working in Just Minutes
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, it takes about 30 to 60 minutes for caffeine to reach its peak level in the blood (one study found increased alertness can begin in as few as 10 minutes). The body typically eliminates half of the drug in three to five hours, and the remainder can linger for eight to 14 hours. Some people, particularly those who don’t regularly consume caffeine, are more sensitive to the effects than others.

Sleep experts often recommend abstaining from caffeine at least eight hours before bedtime to avoid wakefulness at night.