Nutritionally, your body does not require caffeine, but many people consume it regularly to perk them up or combat afternoon fatigue. While moderate caffeine consumption is not likely to harm your health, drinking too much can have adverse effects. Furthermore, you may be consuming more caffeine than you know, since many medicines and foods contain it. Talk to your doctor to determine your recommended amount of caffeine consumption.
Sources of Caffeine
Most people are aware that coffee and caffeinated teas contain caffeine, but it can also be found in some sodas, chocolate and cocoa. Many over-the-counter medications to treat pain or relieve cold symptoms contain caffeine as well, as do medications for the treatment of migraines. For example, according to MayoClinic.com, some pain medicines have as much as 130 mg of caffeine per dose. Appetite suppressants may contain caffeine, too, and you should read food and drug labels of all the items you consume to check for caffeine content so you can monitor your intake.
Recommended Intake and Exceptions
In general, MayoClinic.com recommends that you limit your caffeine consumption to 200 to 300 mg a day, which is the equivalent of two to four cups of coffee. However, some people may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than others, and if you become jittery or have trouble sleeping because of your caffeine intake, you should limit your consumption further. How your body will react to caffeine depends on factors such as your age, body mass, the medications you take and certain conditions you may have. Furthermore, if you are pregnant, have peptic ulcers or heart disease, talk to your doctor about your recommended caffeine consumption, as she may suggest you cut back or even eliminate it altogether.
Side Effects and Withdrawal
Caffeine stimulates your central nervous system, and it also acts as a diuretic. While it can provide the benefit of temporarily relieving fatigue, consuming too much caffeine can also have adverse side effects, such as irritability, digestive upset, restlessness, anxiety, problems sleeping, muscle tremors and a rapid pulse. If you attempt to reduce your caffeine consumption too quickly, this can have produce withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. Should you need to cut back on caffeine, do so gradually to avoid these adverse effects.
Additional Considerations and Precautions
Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your caffeine consumption or if you are experiencing negative side effects from it. Always let him know about any supplements you take or medications you are on, as certain antibiotics, other drugs and herbs can interfere with your body’s ability to process caffeine, heightening the adverse effects.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.