Nutrition 101

Caffeine

Caffeine is a naturally occurring stimulant found in coffee, tea, cola beverages, new “energy” drinks, chocolate and even some medicines, such as liquid cough medicines.

Caffeine is one of the most commonly consumed stimulants in the world. Absorbed easily and rapidly by both the stomach and small intestine, it then circulates throughout the whole body, including the brain. Like everything, caffeine should be consumed in moderation.

The Health Effects of Caffeine

It is difficult to link precise levels of caffeine to specific health effects as tolerance to caffeine differs widely from person to person. For healthy adults, a moderate amount of caffeine may have positive effects, such as increased alertness or ability to concentrate. Caffeine also has some antioxidant properties. However, some people are more sensitive to caffeine. For them, a small amount could cause insomnia, stomach upset, headaches, irritability and nervousness.

Table 1: Caffeine Recommendations from Health Canada

 

Maximum Daily Caffeine Intake

Example

Children 4-6 years old  45 mg One 12-oz (355 ml) can of cola
Children 7-9 years old 62.5 mg  One 12-oz (355 ml) can of cola
Children 10-12 years old  85 mg  One to two 12-oz (355 ml) cans of cola
Pregnant Women 300 mg  Two 8-oz (237 ml) cups of coffee
General Population of Healthy Adults  400 mg  Three 8-oz (237 ml) cups of coffee

Table 2: Caffeine Content of Commonly Consumed Foods & Beverages

20-oz coffee 300 mg caffeine
8-oz blended tea  43 mg caffeine
8-oz green tea  30 mg caffeine
12-oz can of regular cola drink  36-46 mg caffeine
1-oz (28g) milk chocolate bar  7 mg caffeine
1-oz (28g) dark chocolate bar  19 mg caffeine

Some over the counter drug products (such as liquid cough medicine) 1000 mg caffeine

Make healthy food and beverage choices. Consume caffeine in moderate amounts.


Reference:
“It’s your health-caffeine fact sheet” Health Canada website, 2007.