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Do You Get Too Much Caffeine?

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This is Part 7 of a 7-part series on green tea caffeine and the effects of caffeine.

Are you worried about how much caffeine you're getting?

Recently, people have become concerned about their caffeine intake or using caffeine tablets.

While small amounts of caffeine from natural sources, spread throughout the day, have helped people for thousands of years, there are now many modern sources of concentrated caffeine that can become dangerous when abused.

Abuses with caffeine tablets have caused deaths from overdose, and new high caffeine “energy” drinks have increased hospitalizations due to excess caffeine.

In 2007, there were 5448 caffeine overdoses reported in the United States, and people under the age of 19 accounted for 46% of the overdoses (Seifert SM et al, Health effects of energy drinks on children, adolescents, and young adults, Pediatrics. 2011 Mar;127(3):511-28).

Is natural caffeine safe?

Natural sources of caffeine like green tea, oolong tea, black tea, coffee, chocolate, mate, and some herbs are generally recognized as safe (GRAS).

But there are now so-called “natural energy drinks" with added pharmaceutical caffeine.

One commercial green tea "energy drink" can have 100 milligrams of caffeine per serving.

That's as much as a cup of coffee and up to 10 times more than a cup of green tea you make yourself.

With new commercial products, you must read the label to find out how much is in each product, and keep track of your own intake to know if you’re getting too much caffeine daily.

Here are recommended upper limits for caffeine

  • healthy adults should stay below 300-500 milligrams daily

  • pregnant women must stay below 150-200 milligrams daily

  • children should stay below 50 milligrams daily (parents–check those soft drinks! A study by Dr. Pollak in 2003 found some middle school children can get a very hazardous 800 milligrams of caffeine daily.)

When does too much caffeine become an overdose?

For healthy adults, amounts exceeding 700 milligrams of caffeine can be dangerous.

Smaller amounts can be fatal with children.

Of course, too much caffeine becoming an overdose will depend on individual differences like age, weight, caffeine adaptation, or health conditions like liver diseases.

Hospitalizations can usually resolve the rapid heartbeat and nausea of a caffeine overdose.

The most concentrated overdoses can be fatal by causing cardiac arrest.

Please call your doctor if you ever experience a medical emergency.

What if you take medication?

The number of people in the modern world who are taking prescription drugs is unprecedented in human history.

There is no question that prescription drugs can be helpful, and even life-saving.

But exactly how each drug will interact with all the other drugs, or with natural sources of nutrients like food and herbs, cannot be determined for individual people at this time.

There are simply too many possibilities which change with environmental fluctuations.

Even the time-tested use of daily green tea with low caffeine may need to be modified with some medications.

If you have questions about your medications and any source of too much caffeine, you must consult with your health care provider for specific information.

Learn more about tea and caffeine with the Green Tea Health Newsletter here:

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More about caffeine and health

How much caffeine in a cup of green tea?

Which green tea has more caffeine?

How to choose your green tea caffeine level

21 tips for choosing green tea caffeine levels

What about decaffeinated green tea?

Effects of caffeine on your body: positive and negative

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This page last updated by Sharon Jones on March 19, 2013

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