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What’s Your Coffee Limit?

(Health Secrets Newsletter) The amount of caffeine in your morning cup of coffee could already push you towards your daily limit according to research at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. After analyzing single espressos from twenty different coffee outlets in Glasgow, researchers saw that the amount of caffeine in these could vary from just 50mg to up to 300mg, 100mg more than is a safe daily intake for pregnant women, and only 100mg less than is considered a safe daily intake for low risk coffee drinkers.

In a previous article we looked at the fact that the energy boost we seem to get from coffee is actually often just the reversal of caffeine withdrawal symptoms we are experiencing when we are used to drinking coffee regularly and we haven’t had a cup for a couple of hours. However coffee is still big business, and many people feel they can’t get through the day without their caffeine fix. So how much coffee can we drink, and when should we cut back?

How Much Coffee is Safe?

As we have seen, the amount of caffeine in coffee from a coffee shop varies greatly and it is difficult to know how much you have consumed. It is therefore advisable to limit your shop-bought lattes, cappuccinos, and espressos to one a day or less. If you are making coffee yourself and following the recommended amounts on the packaging, the amounts of caffeine should be easier to measure. Here are some caffeine containing substances and their average levels of caffeine.

  • A mug of instant coffee contains 100mg caffeine
  • A mug of filtered coffee contains 140mg caffeine
  • A mug of black tea contains 75mg caffeine
  • A can of cola contains 40mg caffeine
  • A can of energy drink contains 80mg caffeine
  • 50g of dark chocolate contains 50mg caffeine
  • 50g of milk chocolate contains 25mg caffeine

Although there is no definitive limit on the amount of caffeine we can safely consume each day, the general guideline is to keep it under 400mg. Some people have a lower tolerance to caffeine than others, so if you find you are getting symptoms such as palpitations or an upset stomach after drinking coffee, even if you are drinking less than the recommended limit, it is advisable to cut down.

The group most at risk from caffeine consumption is pregnant women. According to research from the University of Leeds, which was published in the British Medical Journal, caffeine is absorbed very quickly into the bodies of pregnant women and can cross the placenta, meaning that it circulates freely in their unborn baby. High levels of caffeine in pregnancy can lead to a higher risk of spontaneous abortion, and have been linked with low birth weight babies. The recommended caffeine limit for pregnant women is 200mg per day. As we have seen, this can easily be exceeded if your favorite coffee bar is feeling a little generous with its coffee beans one day, so coffee bought from a coffee bar is best avoided during pregnancy.

Reducing Your Coffee Intake

Coffee is not all bad; in fact a cup of organic coffee a day can have certain health benefits. Coffee in moderation has been linked to a reduced risk of depression, various cancers, and Alzheimer’s. It is overloading the body with caffeine that can cause problems, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, behavioral problems, and reproductive disorders. In addition excess caffeine can damage the adrenal glands which can reduce your energy levels and increase your dependence on chemical stimulants.

Cutting back on coffee, and learning to appreciate one cup of great organic coffee a day rather than a constant stream of poor quality coffee can be tricky if you feel like you run on the stuff. To help you cut down on coffee without experiencing the extreme withdrawal symptoms of an abrupt change, check out the Energy Plus Program from  which can boost your energy, help you to deal with everyday stresses, and regulate your blood sugar to reduce those cravings.

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