Caffeine is in more products now than ever; soda, smoothies, candy, energy drinks, granola bars, water, etc. As part of March’s Caffeine Awareness Month, HSHS Joseph’s Hospitals in Breese and Highland and HSHS Holy Family Hospital in Greenville want to share how the stimulant affects the brain and body.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates 80% of U.S. adults consume caffeine daily. Although it can help with alertness, health experts say overdoing it can cause dangerous side effects including:
- Increased risk of heart attack.
- Increased blood pressure.
- Skin aging and wrinkling.
- Increased anxiety.
One known effect of caffeine is how it negatively stimulates the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands sit on the kidneys and have a role in releasing hormones when someone is confronted with stress. When caffeine is consumed, these glands are stimulated to release adrenaline into the body. This can affect sleep patterns and make a person less alert in the morning and throughout the day.
“Caffeine is a stimulant and although it takes about 30 minutes to take effect, it can remain in your system for up to eight to 10 hours,” says Kayla Barnes, registered licensed dietitian at both St. Joseph’s and Holy Family hospitals.
The FDA recommends no more than 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine daily for adults, however some people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine and how fast it breaks down in the body, so less is recommended. Keep in mind that the amount of caffeine contained in foods and beverages varies widely.
- One 8-ounce cup of black coffee: 95 mg
- One 8-ounce cup of green tea: 35-70 mg
- One 8-ounce energy drink: 50-250 mg
- One 12-ounce can of cola: 40-50 mg
- One 8-ounce can energy coffee: 145 mg
Caffeine is not recommended for children, women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant, and those who are breast feeding. It also should not be mixed with certain medications so talking with your health care provider about medication management is important.
If you decide to lower your caffeine intake, Barnes says drink more water to avoid dehydration and cut back gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and anxiety.