If you're a traditional tea lover, it's essential to stay abreast of caffeine facts, such as recommended maximum daily amounts and how to figure out how much caffeine you consume each day. This will help to ensure you're enjoying all of tea's wonderful benefits for good health and wellness, without have to worry about potential caffeine side effects or concerns.
Here are some caffeine facts to help you get to know caffeine - and traditional teas - better.
Caffeine is a chemical stimulant produced naturally in the seeds, fruit, and leaves of certain plants, such as tea, coffee, cocoa, guarana, and yerba mate.
While natural caffeine sources are sometimes used as food additives (like yerba mate or guarana added to energy drinks), caffeine is also produced artificially to add to soft drinks, energy drinks, and snack foods to provide increased energy, alertness, and other caffeine benefits for the consumer.
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 focused, energized, and in a better mood almost immediately. These and other benefits of caffeine can last up to six hours or more.
Figuring out how much caffeine is safe for each of us isn't an exact science. Each person 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 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.
Recommendations vary regarding the maximum amount of caffeine adults can safely consume each day, typically ranging from 200 to 400 milligrams (mg) for healthy adults. For example, the Mayo Clinic suggests that up to 400 mg caffeine daily appears to be safe for most healthy adults. Health Canada recommends no more than 400 mg caffeine per day for the average adult, and a maximum of 300 mg daily for women of childbearing age.
However, if you are expecting a little one, planning to fall pregnant, or breastfeeding, please be sure to ask your primary care provider for advice concerning caffeine. AmericanPregnancy.org suggests avoiding caffeine as much as possible while pregnant and breastfeeding. You can also find some helpful information about teas and pregnancy on the BellyBelly website.
Now, some caffeine facts for children and adolescents. For adolescents aged 13 and over, Health Canada recommends daily caffeine intake of no more than 2.5 mg per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight, while the Mayo Clinic suggests that caffeine intake should be limited for adolescents.
And for children, the Mayo Clinic suggests that "caffeine is not a good idea for children," while Health Canada provides recommended maximum caffeine amounts for children by age (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).
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Caffeine side effects typically begin to appear for many of us around 500 - 600 mg daily caffeine intake. But, staying within recommended maximum daily caffeine amounts may reduce the chance of experiencing troubled sleep, headache, irritability, or other common caffeine side effects.
And, keep in mind... because caffeine is a stimulant, it's possible to become physically dependent on it. Consuming even 100 mg of caffeine daily may result in caffeine withdrawal symptoms if you decide to cut back or eliminate caffeine from your diet.
To get an idea of how much caffeine you may be consuming in a normal day, do a quick bit of math with this caffeine chart. Here are general ranges of caffeine amounts for a few common sources of caffeine:
You'll see a caffeine range for some chart items. The amount of caffeine in a cup of tea, for example, depends on a variety of factors (including the growing season, processing methods, brewing time, and more). Learn more about caffeine levels in tea on our Tea and Caffeine page.
When you're watching caffeine intake, be sure to read labels and consider serving sizes. 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.
For those of us who love our traditional teas, it's a good idea to stay informed not only about general caffeine facts, but also how caffeine affects us as individuals. While caffeine can energize us and make us feel more alert for that important presentation at work or when we need an extra boost to get through the day, potential caffeine side effects can be very upsetting, and make us think twice about including caffeine in our days.
Do keep in mind that many find traditional teas to be gentler and less apt to upset us than other caffeinated beverages. Naturally calming and beneficial, teas from the Camellia sinensis tea plant can be a lovely, delectable, fragrant way to enjoy caffeine.
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