How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?


Caffeine can provide a boost of energy, help you become more alert, and improve your mood. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that caffeine is a drug that stimulates the nervous system and can cause negative side effects.

Depending on the amount of caffeine consumed, one or more of the following may occur: jitteriness, anxiety, irritability, increased blood pressure, stomach irritation, decreased length and quality of sleep, headaches, and abnormal heart rhythm.

The impacts of caffeine and the intensity of side effects can differ for everyone. What is okay for one person could be too much for another. The key is to watch for adverse side effects and decrease or avoid caffeine intake. Extremely high caffeine ingestion can trigger serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, or even death. Caffeine can cause serious health challenges for children.

The Mayo Clinic recommends the following daily limits of caffeine:

·         Adults: less than 400 mg/day

·         Adolescents: less than 100 mg/day

·         Children: 0 mg/day

Caffeine can be harmful to some groups of people. Seek advice about caffeine consumption from your health care provider if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have a sleep disorder, migraine, anxiety, GERD, ulcers, or high blood pressure. Problems with heart rhythm, heart rate, and certain medications can also have detrimental consequences.

If consumed regularly, a person can become dependent on caffeine. As little as 100 mg/day can cause dependency, so monitor your intake. The chart below shows commonly consumed caffeinated beverages and the amount of caffeine they contain.

NameStandard AmountCaffeine in Standard AmountCaffeine in 16 Oz.
Energy Drinks
5-Hour Energy2 oz.200 mg1,600 mg
Sobe No Fear16 oz.182 mg182 mg
Monster16 oz.172 mg172 mg
Rockstar16 oz.160 mg160 mg
Red Bull8.4 oz.79 mg151 mg
Coffee, Tea
Brewed Coffee8 oz.163 mg324 mg
Average Coffee8 oz.95 mg190 mg
Iced Tea8 oz.Average of 47 mg94 mg
Soft Drinks
Mountain Dew12 oz.54 mg         72 mg
Coke12 oz.34 mg         45 mg
Diet Coke12 oz.45 mg         60 mg
Pepsi12 oz.38 mg         51 mg
Sprite12 oz.0 mg          0 mg
Chocolate Milk8 oz.5 mg10 mg
Dark Chocolate1 oz.20 mg320 mg
Milk Chocolate1 oz.6 mg96 mg
Cold Relief Meds1 tablet30 mg
Vivarin1 tablet200 mg
Excedrin2 tablets130 mg

To reduce caffeine consumption, gradually swap caffeinated drinks with non-caffeinated drinks. Read labels on drinks, food, and medications to determine caffeine content, and stay away from those that contain high amounts. Replace your caffeinated beverage with water. Water can help flush caffeine out of your system and keep you properly hydrated. Indications of caffeine withdrawal include drowsiness, headaches, irritability, or trouble concentrating, but symptoms should last only a few days. Monitoring your caffeine consumption and following these recommendations and guidelines can lead to improved health and a longer life.

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By: Cindy Nelson, Utah State University Extension associate professor,

Categories: Healthy Living

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