Coffee has long been a favorite drink during small and big gatherings, a definite mainstay to any food menu and even a household necessity for most. Caffeine, as its main constituent, may be considered responsible for coining the term "coffee addiction" due to its naturally inviting effects. But many people do not know that caffeine is also found in other favorites like tea, soda, energy drinks and chocolates. Today, caffeine takes on a new form through an ingeniously convenient caffeine pill.
And with its rising popularity, especially among people with sedentary lifestyles, or those who are dependent on the sudden energy boost provided by caffeine, the question is if we are using it safely. In answering that question, it is better to ask how much caffeine is too much.
The body's tolerance to coffee varies from person to person but if we look at the different types and modes of preparation of coffee, we could have an exact figure to ponder about. A single cup of coffee or a single shot of espresso contains:
- Drip Coffee – 115 – 175 mg
- Espresso – 60 mg
- Brewed – 80 to 135 mg
- Instant – 65 to 100 mg
- Decaf (Brewed) – 3 to 4 mg
- Decaf (Instant) – 2 to 3 mg
A 30-gram bar of chocolate contains between 20 to 60 mg of caffeine. A 375 ml of soda has 40 mg while a 250 ml energy drink packs 80 to 100 mg.
According to health experts, an average person consuming less than 170 mg a day is safe. But in case you’re worrying about your dose, here are a few pointers to help make your caffeine intake a healthy habit:
- When you have been taking the pills since you can't remember when, take the initiative to narrow your intake slowly to avoid over-irritability or headaches, and some other withdrawal effects like nausea, vomiting, fatigue and anxiety.
- Drink plenty of water to combat its diuretic or dehydrating effects. A common rule of thumb is to add a glass of water to the recommended 8 glasses a day for every pill that you take.
- Monitor your heartbeat and pulse rate. If you have more than a hundred beats per minute, it may signify tachycardia or rapid heartbeat so it is best to stop taking the pills and consult your dietitian.
- During pregnancy, taking caffeine pills are a no-no as it may cause miscarriage or other complications.
Since caffeine is a common ingredient to many weight-loss products, many people believe that taking caffeine or drinking coffee helps them lose weight. This is considered a misconception according to reputable dietitians and practitioners. What caffeine does is make a person lose water, which in effect makes a person drink plenty of water to reciprocate, thus minimizing the feeling of hunger. Your body's metabolism, water intake and adherence to your weight loss program, are what makes a person lose weight. The American College of Emergency Physicians has on record over 265 cases of medical complications resulting from caffeine abuse, most of which came from caffeine pills.
Without a doubt, caffeine has both the capacity to do a person's health some good and to put someone's life out of balance, if abused.