Is Caffeine Safe?

There’s no doubt about it – caffeine permeates our daily society.  Whether you drink a cup of coffee in the morning, or you have the occasional energy drink, or you combine your alcohol with cola, you’re likely getting caffeine in some dose every single day.  In fact, caffeine ranks among some of the most popularly used ingredients in the world.   And, there are some great benefits to this natural stimulant.  But, there may be a dark side to this ubiquitous chemical.  So, today we’re asking this simple question: Is caffeine safe?

Is Caffeine Safe?: Where Caffeine Comes From

As you read above, you can famously get caffeine from coffee, energy drinks, or many carbonated soft drinks.  But, other drinks, like tea, also get their caffeine from certain plants.  Black tea, in particular, can contain nearly as much caffeine as a cup of black coffee.  And, caffeine is naturally in tea, cacao pods, kola nuts, the ilex plant, and guarana seeds.  Each of these natural sources has found its use in modern society.  Respectively, these sources attribute to the caffeine in black tea, chocolate products, cola beverages, yerba mate, and many energy drinks.  However, caffeine also famously comes from coffee beans, and these efficient little products have even lent their name to caffeine.  But, this still doesn’t answer the question, is caffeine safe?

Is Caffeine Safe? : Risks of Caffeine Use

Caffeine in moderate amounts normally doesn’t present any noticeable side effects.  However, when you overdo the caffeine, it can cause some pretty bad problems.  And, that doesn’t just include insomnia and restlessness, although those can be serious enough in themselves.  Caffeine can also cause migraine headaches (debilitating pain often accompanied by visual or auditory auras and sometimes nausea).  Plus, it can induce frequent urination, an upset stomach, muscle tremors, and a fast heartbeat.  And, while these negative issues happen for most people after four cups of coffee or more in a day, they can happen after just one cup if you’re particularly sensitive.  High caffeine intake can be bad for anyone, but it can also be particularly detrimental for people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as well as adolescents, or those on certain medications.

While it should be said that negative side effects of caffeine use are usually not too problematic, caffeine overdose can be fatal.  Initial symptoms of caffeine overdose can be dizziness, serious thirst, and even diarrhea.  However, very serious overdose can cause vomiting, hallucinations, chest pain, and convulsions.

Is Caffeine Safe? : Guidelines for the Average Caffeine Consumer

So, perhaps you’ve become convinced that caffeine isn’t safe.  But, we still haven’t quite answered the question: is caffeine safe?  And, the answer is yes, in small doses.  But, what is a small enough dose that it’s safe?  Well, if you want to avoid any sort of caffeine addiction, limiting yourself to caffeine on occasion – not every day – may be very helpful.  You’ll avoid the headaches and irritability, should you not be able to come across a decent cup of coffee or tea.  However, the average adult can safely consume around 400 milligrams of caffeine per day – roughly the amount in four (normal-sized) cups of coffee.  Pregnant women should not have more than 200 milligrams per day, and adolescents shouldn’t have more than 100 milligrams.

All that being said, caffeine can certainly be a useful tool.  For example, some use caffeine for focus, since caffeine is a nootropic.  Common migraine headache medication includes caffeine in order to improve blood flow and relieve symptoms.  And, millions of adults consume caffeine daily without falling victim to overdose.  So, is caffeine safe?  Certainly – just be careful about your consumption, as with anything.