If you're a tea lover, caffeine facts are important for you to know. Stay up-to-date on how much caffeine is safe for you and watch how much you consume daily to ensure you avoid the "caffeine blues" and other caffeine side effects!
Caffeine is a chemical stimulant produced naturally in the seeds, fruit, and leaves of certain plants, such as tea, coffee, cocoa, guarana (a red fruit native to the Amazon rainforest), and yerba mate.
Natural caffeine sources are sometimes used as food additives (like yerba mate or guarana added to energy drinks).
And, caffeine is also produced artificially to add to soft drinks, energy drinks, and snack foods to provide increased energy, alertness, and other caffeine benefits. Manufactured caffeine is an ingredient in some prescription and non-prescription drugs, such as pain relievers, cold medications, and allergy medications, too.
Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, leaving us feeling more alert, energized, and in a better mood almost immediately. The effects of caffeine can last up to six hours or more. (Learn more here about some potential benefits of moderate amounts of caffeine.)
Healthcare recommendations vary regarding the maximum amount of caffeine we can safely consume each day, typically ranging from 200 to 400 milligrams (mg) for healthy adults. For example, the Mayo Clinic and Health Canada suggest that up to 400 mg caffeine per day isn't harmful for most healthy adults.
What about pregnancy and caffeine? Due to concerns about greater risks associated with caffeine consumption, a daily maximum of 300 mg of caffeine for pregnant women or breastfeeding mums is Health Canada's recommendation. AmericanPregnancy.org indicates that moderate caffeine amounts (between 150 and 300 mg caffeine daily) haven't been found to negatively affect pregnancy (but be sure to consult your healthcare provider about safe caffeine amounts if you are expecting). It's important to watch your caffeine intake if you're planning to fall pregnant, as well.
Now, some caffeine facts for children and adolescents. Health Canada has also provided recommended maximum caffeine amounts for children: no more than 45 mg/day for children aged 4 - 6 years, 62.5 mg/day for ages 7 - 9, and 85 mg/day for ages 10 - 12. For teens aged 13 and older, Health Canada recommends daily caffeine intake of no more than 2.5 mg per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight.
The Mayo Clinic suggests that younger children simply shouldn't have caffeine regularly (so caffeine-free herbal teas, like Rooibos, are best), and adolescents should have no more than 100 mg caffeine daily (which is troubling in light of how popular caffeinated energy drinks have become!).
For many people, side effects of caffeine typically begin to appear around 500 - 600 mg daily caffeine intake. But, if you stay within the recommended caffeine limits, you most likely won't experience a caffeine headache, anxiety, insomnia, irritability, or other typical caffeine side effects.
However, each of us has a different caffeine sensitivity, depending on age, size, physical and mental health, how adjusted to caffeine we are, and various other factors. So, even these suggested maximum amounts may be far too much for someone who is very sensitive to caffeine. A strong caffeine intolerance or allergy may mean you need to be vigilant in avoiding caffeine altogether.
And, keep in mind that consuming even 100 mg of caffeine daily can result in caffeine withdrawal symptoms if you decide to reduce or completely eliminate caffeine from your diet.
To get an idea of how much caffeine you have in a normal day, do a quick bit of math with this caffeine chart. Here are caffeine amounts for a few common sources of caffeine:
You'll see a caffeine range for some chart items. The amount of caffeine in, for example, a cup of tea depends on a variety of factors (including the growing season, processing methods, brewing time...). Click here for more information about caffeine in tea.
When you're watching your caffeine intake, it's essential to stay current on caffeine facts, to read labels, and to take into account how large your servings are. In our society of "bigger is better" (when it comes to food and drink, anyway), we tend to underestimate how much we are actually consuming...
Many of us struggle with a love/hate relationship with caffeine! It energizes us and makes us more alert for that important presentation at work or when we need an extra boost to get through the day... but all too often, the "caffeine blues" follow hard on the heels of that burst of caffeine energy!
No matter how you feel about caffeine, if you're a tea lover, it's a good idea to keep up-to-date on caffeine facts and how caffeine can affect you.
Interested in reading more about caffeine? Drop by our Tea and Caffeine page.
Each of us reacts differently to caffeine, so what is an acceptable amount of caffeine for one person could be significantly too much (or even unsafe) for the next person, resulting in one or more caffeine side effects.
That's why it's important to stay educated about caffeine facts. And, if you think you are experiencing side effects of caffeine, or if you have a caffeine allergy or intolerance, consider a caffeine alternative to your usual cup of black, green, or white tea - such as a delicious cup of Rooibos or cinnamon tea.
And check with your healthcare provider for guidance and more information about a safe level of caffeine consumption for you.