NORMAN — Q: I consume caffeine on a daily basis. How much is too much? What is the caffeine content of some foods/beverages?
A: Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that enhances alertness, reduces fatigue and helps to improve concentration and focus. For most healthy adults, 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day is considered safe to consume, but consumption as high as 500 mg a day can have side effects, such as:
· Sleep disturbances
· Stomach upset
· Fast heart rate
Caffeine intake also should be monitored during pregnancy and lactation as caffeine crosses the placenta to the fetus during pregnancy and is excreted in breastmilk during lactation. During pregnancy, there is a possibility of increased risk of hypertension, miscarriage and stillbirth, with high intakes of caffeine. Some literature suggests limiting consumption of coffee to less than 200 mg per day. During lactation, caffeine enters breast milk and may cause irritability and wakefulness in an infant.
If you are looking to reduce or eliminate your current caffeine intake, you should start with a gradual decrease to avoid caffeine withdrawal symptoms, such as: Headache, fatigue, irritability and nervousness.
The following is a list of estimated caffeine contents:
· Coffee 1 cup (8oz) = 100-150 mg
· Decaf coffee 1 cup (8 oz) = 2-12 mg
· Tea 1 cup (8oz) = 15-70 mg
· Decaf tea 1 cup (8oz) = 0-12 mg
· Espresso 1 oz = 40-80 mg
· Soft drinks 1 can (12oz) = 18-55 mg
· Energy drink 1 serving (8oz) = 50-80 mg
· Milk chocolate candy bar = 4-10 mg
· Dark chocolate candy bar = 25-40 mg
For nutritional counseling, Norman Regional Health System offers the guidance of registered dietitians. Those interested can schedule an appointment for an assessment with a referral from their family physician.