Caffeine: Everything You Need to Know to Balance Your “Buzz”

Let’s assume you are one of the 85 percent of Americans who consume caffeine every day. Once you’ve armed yourself with some basic facts, it isn’t difficult to make sure that your daily buzz is part of a balanced diet.

Too much of anything can be harmful. But research has shown that the moderate intake of caffeine can improve mental performance, including long-term cognitive and memory skills, and can help maximize physical performance.

The key is to find out what “balance” and “moderation” mean for you.

What is a ‘Moderate Amount’ of Caffeine?

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) just released its Scientific Opinion on caffeine safety, where they defined “moderate” caffeine intake, for most people.

  • 400mg of caffeine per day is considered “moderate,” and will not raise safety concerns for the general population. The FDA and Health Canada agree that this amount is safe.  
  • Single doses of up to 200mg at one time do not raise safety concerns.

So what does 400 mg of caffeine look like? Check out our infographic for estimated servings of coffee, tea, energy drinks, or soda, and click here to learn more about how much caffeine is in your favorite beverage.

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If you’re a healthy adult, keep track of your total daily intake, and remember that the magic ‘400 mg’ number is a moderate amount.

Is ALL Caffeine Created Equal?

What if you get your daily caffeine boost from energy drinks, instead of coffee or tea? Do other typical ingredients in those drinks (such as taurine and D-glucurono-γ-lactone) affect the way your body responds to caffeine?

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The scientific evidence says no. EFSA says that the “consumption of other constituents of ‘energy drinks’ at concentrations commonly present in such beverages would not affect the safety of single doses of caffeine up to 200mg.”

In other words, the caffeine in your energy drink is just as safe as the caffeine in a cup of coffee.

Do I have to go nine months without a latte?

Are you pregnant? Good news: You don’t need to cut out caffeine entirely. The EFSA says that caffeine intakes of up to 200 mg a day do not raise safety concerns for the fetus. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) , March of Dimes, and Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS)  all agree. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says the same thing about while you’re breastfeeding: Moderate consumption isn’t a problem.

Research also shows that moderate caffeine intake doesn’t impact fertility or your chances of getting pregnant.

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