Caffeine: How Much is too Much?
By Dr. Ruth Ketron
-mild stimulant in moderation
-increases urination, heart rate and rhythm
-excessive intake can cause restlessness, insomnia, heart irregularities, and delirium.
The American Dietetic Association suggests no more than 200-300 mgs of caffeine a day, which is equal to no more than two or three cups of coffee a day. Caffeine content varies and until recently has been hard to figure out. Finally, some manufacturers have begun to print counts on the labels, along with the rest of the nutritional information.
After a few trips to the grocery stores, fitness clubs, and coke machines and burning the midnight oil at the computer, I have come up with some values so you can make good choices for you and your family. Caffeinated beverages can make you jittery, sleepless, or anxious. Water is probably your best bet to stay hydrated. It’s calorie free, caffeine-free, inexpensive and readily available.
Caffeine Content of Popular Drinks
12 ounces milligrams (mg)
Dr. Enuf (10 oz.) 61.1
Mountain Dew 55
Mellow Yellow 52.8
Diet Coke 45.6
Dr. Pepper and Diet Dr. Pepper 41
Diet Pepsi 36
Coca Cola Classic 34
Nestea Sweet Ice Tea 26.5
Nestea Unsweetened 26.5
A&W Root Beer 0
Other beverages: 8 oz. milligrams (mg)
Coffee, Drip 115-175
Coffee, Brewed 80-135
Coffee, Instant 65-100
Tea, iced 47
Starbucks Coffee Grande (16 0z) 259 (another citation stated 500mg)
Instant tea 30
Hot cocoa 14
Coffee, brewed, decaf 3-4
Coffee: Maxwell House 6 oz. cup
Original/Regular 50-80 mg/tablespoon
Master Blend 75-80 mg/ “ “
French Roast 60-65 mg/ “ “
Light 25-35 mg/ “ “
Decaf 1-5 mg/ “ “
Power Bar Gel
180 mg Electrolytes
Vanilla no caffeine
Raspberry Crème no caffeine
Plain Energy no caffeine
Strawberry 25 mg caffeine
Chocolate 25 mg caffeine
Double Latte 50 mg caffeine
Tangerine 50 mg caffeine
ENERGY DRINKS (Wikipedia Website)
Energy drinks are soft drinks advertised as providing energy to improve physical activity of the drinker, as compared to a typical drink. Rather than providing food energy (as measured in calories), these drinks are designed to increase a user’s mental alertness and physical performance by the addition of caffeine, vitamins, and herbal supplements which may interact to provide a stimulant effect over and above that obtained from caffeine alone.
Some health experts aren’t convinced energy drinks are safe. They say young people already consume unhealthy amounts of caffeine and don’t need a product that raises the intake. They also believe that mixing alcohol with it can be fatal.
Adverse Effects (Wikipedia )
Caution is warranted even for healthy adults who choose to consume energy beverages. Consumption of a single energy beverage will not lead to excessive caffeine intake; however, consumption of two or more beverages in a single day can. Other stimulants, such as ginseng are often added to energy beverages and may enhance the effects of caffeine, and ingredients such as guarana themselves contain caffeine. Adverse effects associated with caffeine consumption in amounts greater than 400 mg include nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, increased urination, abnormal heart rhythms, and stomach upset. The concentration of sugar in a sports drink is recommended to be 6-7% carbohydrates to allow maximum absorption and minimize spikes and crashes in blood sugar. Higher concentrations such as those seen in energy drinks will slow fluid absorption into the blood and energy system, increasing the possibility of dehydration. When a high level of sugar is in the blood stream the body cannot get the water into the cells that it needs because the water is busy trying to dilute concentrations of sugar in the blood stream.
Here is a list of ingredients of the most common ingredients and their alleged effects on the body: (www.energyfriend.com)
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system giving the body a sense of alertness.
It can raise heart rate and blood pressure while dehydrating the body
Taurine is an amino acid that your body naturally produces. It helps regulate heartbeat,
muscle contractions, and energy levels. Usually your body makes enough that you
don’t need to supplement.
Guarana comes from plants in
B Vitamins are essentially the things that help you convert food to energy, like sugar
which is found in abundance in energy drinks.
Ginseng is an herb, and is known to increase energy, has some anti-fatigue components,
supposedly relieves stress, and increases memory.
Ginkgo Biloba is believed to help with memory retention, concentration and circulation
People on anti-depressants shouldn’t take ginkgo and some of the other side effect
include blood thinning, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, heart
palpitations, and restlessness.
L-Carnitine is an amino acid usually created by your liver and kidneys, this stuff helps
up your metabolism and energy levels. This may help with endurance during exercise.
Sugar is the body’s preferred fuel. That’s why you get hyped with a lot of sugar.
Energy drinks contain a ton of sugar. Therefore, energy. It’s a carbohydrate, and a lot
of exercise regiments suggest a good dose of carbs for workouts lasting more than an
Anti-oxidants are things that help your body gracefully recover from the damage of free
radicals. Vitamin C is an oxidant, so claiming that your energy drink has a lot of anti-
oxidants are like saying you’re buying a really expensive orange juice.
Glucuronolactone occurs naturally in the human body as glucose is broken down by the
liver. It is placed in energy drinks because it is believed to help with glycogen
depletion by preventing other substances from depleting glycogen supplies in the
Yerba Mate is a natural source of caffeine, but some believe that this form of caffeine
doesn’t produce the negative side effects like the caffeine in coffee and guarana.
Creatine is naturally obtained by eating meat. It helps by supplying energy to the
muscles and is usually found in energy drinks and products that are marketed to body
anti-oxidants, but not as much as a Concord grape or blueberry. Most of the acai
berries benefits have no scientific evidence and are attributed to marketing hype.
Example of energy drinks:
Red Bull 8.5 oz 80 mg caffeine
Dr. Michael Hurt, a California Physician, estimates that one can of Red Bull has about as much taurine in it as 500 glasses of red wine, a level he says is theoretically suppose to boost the effect of the drinks stimulants but has not been studied for long-term effects.
Monster energy blend 2,500mg
(16 oz) L-Carnitine
Taurine 1,000 mg
Ginseng 200 mg
Dr. Ruth’s advice: DO NOT DRINK ANY ENERGY DRINK WITHOUT READING THE LABEL.