Coffee drinkers consume about 1-3 cups on average, which is about 110 to 260mg of caffeine. According to FDA guidelines, healthy adults shouldn’t consume more than 400mg of caffeine (which is about 4-5 cups of brewed coffee). Too much of it can lead to an array of health problems including insomnia, upset stomach, anxiety and headaches. Excessive amounts, on the other hand, have been found to trigger serious health consequences including irregular heartbeat, seizures and even death.
It’s probably easy to monitor how many cups of brewed coffee you’ve consumed at home or in your office. But if you’re going to a coffee shop like Starbucks, you may not have much of an idea about the amount of caffeine in the drink you ordered. Starbucks coffee prices may be higher than other coffee shops like Coffee Bean or Tim Horton’s but no one can deny, they make really good coffee. But if you’re not careful, you might be consuming more than the caffeine limit. The True North Blend brewed coffee from Starbucks, for example, has 475mg of caffeine when you order the venti. So it pays to do some research ahead of time to make sure you’re not consuming too much caffeine.
In any case, here are symptoms to watch out for:
- Increased urination
- Upset stomach
- Increased anxiety
- Faster heart rate
The effects of caffeine may start to kick in about 15 minutes after you drink coffee. Caffeine level peaks in your blood stream an hour later and will stay here for hours. In 6 hours after drinking coffee, about half of the caffeine is still present in your body. Once caffeine is removed from your system which can take around 8-10 hours, the symptoms will subside.
While the safe daily limit is 400mg of caffeine, some health conditions may make consuming it more dangerous.
If you have any of the following, be sure to consult your doctor before drinking coffee:
- Atrial fibrillation
- Other heart conditions
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, you should also cut back on your coffee intake to just 200mg of caffeine a day.
How Much Coffee is Too Much?
The safety of caffeine depends on the dose, your body weight and also your overall health. Some people may not experience any symptoms even after drinking 6 cups of coffee a day. Others may only drink one cup of coffee and are already experiencing jitters, high blood pressure and difficulty sleeping.
The US National Academies of Science as well as Health Canada have found that for healthy adults, it is safe to consume up to 400 mg of caffeine per day. It’s also found that for most people, drinking coffee that contains up to 200mg of caffeine in one sitting does not cause any health issues even if consumed two hours or less before an intense physical activity. However, they advise against consuming coffee before bedtime unless you don’t want to have a good night’s sleep.
For people with cardiovascular problems, there may be some long-term implications of consuming coffee regularly although low to moderate consumption is considered safe. Caffeine can raise blood pressure for three to four hours. It’s recommended that people with pre-existing heart conditions should only drink coffee in moderate amounts.
The FDA has not set a caffeine intake limit for kids and adolescents but states that the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend the consumption of caffeine by youngsters. Children under 12 should not consume coffee and other caffeinated drinks and supplements, as per guideline from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). The agency also suggested to set the limit to no more than 100mg for 12-18 year old per day.
Children who have consumed too much caffeine will show symptoms such as:
- Unhealthy growth patterns
- Poor sleep patterns
Are You Addicted to Coffee?
Are you becoming too dependent on coffee without you realizing it? Here are some tell-tale signs:
1. You need coffee before you can interact with others in a sound (and civilized) manner.
2. You can’t get any work done in the morning without coffee.
3. You get a nasty headache if you don’ have coffee by mid-day.
4. You can’t concentrate without consuming caffeine.
5. You’re irritable without coffee.
Most people who love coffee aren’t necessarily addicted to coffee in the same way as some may be addicted to drugs. They just can’t seem to function or focus properly without first drinking a cup of coffee. But the problem is that dependency on caffeine and consuming too much of it can have health consequences. We all love your venti coffee but it does pay to be mindful of how much coffee we’re drinking and keep it within the safe limits as often as possible.