There’s sometimes nothing better than a nice cup of coffee or tea - caffeine has its perks, but it can bring a few problems with it. Caffeine can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet, but find out below why enough is really enough!
Where do we get it?
Caffeine content in food and drink:
One mug of instant coffee: 100mg.
One mug of filter coffee: 140mg.
One mug of tea: 75mg.
One can of cola: 40mg.
One can of energy drink: 80mg.
One 50g bar of plain (dark) chocolate: around 50mg.
One 50g bar of milk chocolate: around 25mg
The good bit?
If you’re like me you will maybe have a part of the day where you will enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Sharing a cuppa with friends or over a conversation is part of our culture and is to be enjoyed. The caffeine we consume during these activities does bring some benefits, this is due to the effect it has to increase levels of neurotransmitters in our brain. The result is increased wakefulness, alertness, reduced fatigue and improved concentration and focus.
How much is Enough?
Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day is thought to be safe for most healthy adults. That's roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee however some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others so this may vary.
The side effects of caffeine are well documented; we can expect to experience some of the following symptoms; insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, stomach upset, fast heartbeat, muscle tremors.
Caffeine is a diuretic i.e. it increases the body’s production of urine, we shouldn’t be counting caffeine containing drinks as part of our daily fluid intake (1-2L per day).
Although caffeine use may be safe for adults, it's not a good idea for children; it should limited to no more than 100 mg of caffeine a day.
Caffeine and Sleep
Most adults need seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Caffeine can disrupt our sleep pattern. Continually losing sleep whether from work, travel, stress or too much caffeine has a direct influence on our daily alertness and performance.
Using caffeine to combat sleep deprivation can be a troublesome cycle if we consume more caffeine during the day to stay alert, the consequence can be difficulty getting to sleep at night, over time this can take a toll on the body.
Keeping the habit healthy
Reducing caffeine intake suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms including; headaches, fatigue, irritability and nervousness. These are normally mild and resolve after a few days. We can keep our caffeine habits healthy by considering some of the below tips:
Reduce slowly if you need to: if some of the symptoms described resonate with you, make some slow changes, Avoid drinking caffeinated drinks in the later part of the day in particular.
Switch to Decaf: you don’t have to sacrifice your social calendar, decaffeinated drinks typically taste every bit as good as their counterparts.
Watch your intake: keep an eye on labels and keep a note of daily intake and try (as a rough guide) keep below 400mg per day.
Drink tea not Stew! When brewing tea reduce the time the tea bag stays in the water or switch to herbal teas many of which have zero caffeine content.
Check any medicines you take with your pharmacist: some medicines available over the counter contain caffeine which will add to your daily intake. Other medicines work either to increase the levels of caffeine that get into our body or are affected by the levels of caffeine we take.
In summary good advice is to continue to enjoy caffeine as part of your daily routine, but just be mindful of how much you let into your body. If you feel you are over doing it take some steps to reduce your intake.
If you’re worried about your caffeine intake please be free to discuss this further with one of our pharmacy team members.