We all love coffee, and many of us love tea as well, but the side effects of high caffeine consumption can wreak havoc on our health depending on how high of a tolerance we have for caffeine. It’s important to remember that caffeine is a stimulant, and all stimulants alter the way the entire nervous system works and functions. Our nervous system controls every aspect of our mood, energy levels, heart rate, blood pressure, and even our digestion. Caffeine is also a diuretic, meaning it depletes water from the body which leads to the loss of nutrients in the body.
How much caffeine is too much?
The maximum intake (or upward daily recommended intake) of caffeine for adults over the age of 18 years old is up to 400 milligrams, which is about the equivalent of 4 cups of coffee, give or take since most coffees contain around 90 milligrams per 8-ounce cup. However, caffeine isn’t only found in coffee. There are other sources of caffeine in both food, beverages, and over the counter drugs that you should be aware of.
Here are some of the most commonly consumed sources of caffeine:
- green, black and white tea
- regular coffee
- cocoa (and cacao, or raw chocolate)
- energy drinks (and many gels)
- diet pills/thermogenics (fat burners)
- many over the counter sports aids
- pain relievers
While most of us are aware of these sources of caffeine, it’s easy to go about the day and forget how much we’re actually consuming. We may have a couple cups of coffee in the morning, some tea later on in the day, a square of dark chocolate after lunch or dinner, and our favorite pre-workout before we hit the gym. Or maybe you’re dragging through your day and you decide to grab an energy drink and pop a few over-the- counter pills to take care of a lingering headache. These daily habits may seem harmless but can lead to some pretty terrible side effects of high caffeine consumption.
Here are 12 of the most common side effects of too much caffeine consumption:
3. Inability to focus
4. Overwhelming fatigue (once the caffeine barrier of tolerance has been crossed to the point of exhaustion)
5. Digestive upset (diarrhea) or constipation (from being dehydrated)
6. High blood pressure and a fast heart rate
7. Acidic Stomach and/or heartburn
9. Nausea and loss of hunger
12. Eye twitching
These symptoms are only some of the most common, but long-term consumption of caffeine can lead to severe digestive problems, depression, and mineral loss that leads to malabsorption of nutrients in the body. Adrenal fatigue is also commonly caused by high caffeine consumption. Long-term abuse of caffeine can even lead to weak bones due to the loss of minerals such as calcium and magnesium that assist with bone health. The list of terrible side effects of high caffeine consumption are almost limitless. Luckily, caffeine is a legal drug that is easier to wean yourself off than most are.
If you are suffering from any of these terrible side effects from high caffeine consumption, immediately begin to reduce your intake of all sources of caffeine, or at least evaluate what you’re consuming each day to find out how much caffeine you might be consuming to begin with. Be aware that weaning yourself off of caffeine is not easy and may involve a period of withdrawals. There’s also no need to completely cut out all sources of caffeine from your diet, but you should start with those most detrimental to your health such as soda, diet pills, and too many (or the abuse of) over-the-counter medications.
A cup or two of coffee each day offers significant health benefits, but overdoing the caffeine each day is not a ticket to long-term health. If you want a gentler approach to coffee, you can also try matcha green tea instead!