Caffeine and Energy Drinks: What You Need to Know
· Healthy adults can, for the most part, safely consume up to 400 mg of caffeine a day.
o -An 8 ounce cup of coffee contains approximately 100-200 mg of caffeine.
· Side effects of caffeine consumption may include:
o Rapid heartbeat
o Gastrointestinal distress
*Note: these side effects may happen with any amount of caffeine consumption, depending on age, gender, body mass, and individual sensitivity
*Tip: If you experience these symptoms, try decreasing the amount of caffeine in your diet or altering the time of consumption to earlier in the day in the case of insomnia.
*Tip: It takes about 5-7 hours to eliminate 1/2 of the caffeine you consume from your body.
· Consuming large amounts of caffeine from any source results in:
o Increased urine flow
o Increased sweat loss
o Altered electrolyte levels in the blood
*Tip: Replenishing water losses and maintaining stable electrolyte levels are key for peak athletic performance and personal health
· Studies show that low to moderate consumption of caffeine by adults (12.5-100mg/day) results in better endurance during exercise, improved cognition, and quicker reaction times.
· It is not recommended for children or adolescents to consume more than 100 mg of caffeine a day from any source.
· The term “energy drink” refers to beverages that contain varying amounts of caffeine, taurine, vitamins, and herbal supplements, along with sugar and/or sweeteners. These drinks are often targeted at teens and young adults for weight loss, energy boosts, increased athletic performance, and better concentration.
· Energy drinks are considered a dietary supplement, and are therefore only loosely regulated.
*Note: The amount of caffeine in soft drinks is limited by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) because soft drinks are categorized as a food. However, there are no such regulations at this time for energy drinks.
· Energy drinks may contain more caffeine than is listed on the label because many contain additives (such as guarana) that also have caffeine in them. Manufacturers are not required to include caffeine content from additives on the label. Therefore, consumers may be taking in more caffeine than they expect.
· Consumption of energy drinks is not suggested for athletes, especially in combination with stimulants or alcohol.
· Consuming too many energy drinks (or consuming in combination with other stimulants or alcohol) is associated with dangerous effects such as:
o Liver damage
o Kidney and/or heart failure
o Respiratory disorders
o Rapid heartbeat and/or disrhythmias
o Vomiting, nausea, and/or abdominal pain
Research has shown no therapeutic benefit to drinking energy drinks.
Look for more to come in the weeks to follow from our healthcare experts at Saint Vincent!
Leslie Lawton, RD, CSSD, LDN, CDE
Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics
Saint Vincent Hospital