The Buzz on Caffeine

If recent reports of deaths linked to energy drinks have you questioning your caffeine habit, you can probably relax. While extremely large doses of caffeine can cause high blood pressure and heart rhythm disturbances, a little caffeine isn’t a problem for most healthy people. 

The concern with energy drinks isn’t necessarily that they contain caffeine. It’s that people tend to chug them like soda. That makes it easy to overdo it, especially when a tiny 2 ounce bottle can pack the caffeine equivalent of a strong cup of coffee. Scan the label of products like 5-Hour Energy and you’ll see that even the manufacturer advises drinking no more than ½ a bottle at a time and cautions against downing more than two bottles a day. Coffee and tea, on the other hand, are naturally bitter so we tend to nurse them for a while, making a caffeine overdose unlikely. 

Found naturally in more than 60 plants, caffeine is the world’s most frequently used drug. While too much can make you irritable and sleepless, the amount in one or two cups of coffee a day usually isn’t a health hazard. Of course, there are a few exceptions. If you’re pregnant or nursing, suffer from heartburn, have a history of heart rhythm problems or have difficulty sleeping, limiting caffeine may make sense. 

Photo from Flickr user Amanda28192

Photo from Flickr user Amanda28192

For the rest of us, a couple of cups of daily cups of coffee or tea a day are fine. In fact, they may even have some health benefits.  Here are just a few of caffeine’s perks:

Bottom line: When it comes to caffeine, research reveals that moderate consumption yields the biggest benefits. If you do choose to caffeinate, do it with nature’s original energy drinks – coffee and tea. 

 

Blog Contributor

Blog Contributor

Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D., C.D.N. is a nutrition consultant, journalist and author specializing in nutrition. She is a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a contributing editor for Woman’s Day magazine. Her work has been published in magazines such as Cooking Light, EatingWell, Prevention, Fitness, Women’s Health, Woman’s Day and Oprah.

Karen is a graduate of Duke University and received her Masters of Science in clinical nutrition from New York University.Connect with Karen via her website or @KarenAnselRD.

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