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Is Caffeine Bad For You (And How Much Caffeine Is Too Much)?

Written by Sara Leandro
Sara Leandro is a certified health coach who helps people make lifestyle changes that meet their unique needs and health goals.
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Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, and other items and products. When taken, it stimulates the brain and nervous system, helping you stay active. People take caffeine for various reasons. Most people love to take it because of its natural and unique flavor and taste. Students and shift workers take it to remain active during study or work.

While moderate consumption is good, too much may be harmful. So, how is caffeine bad for you? How much is too much, and what are the side effects of taking coffee?

What Exactly Is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a drug, but it exists in the natural form in coffee beans, tea leaves, and other things. People drink it to keep them active, enjoy the taste and flavor, and avoid tiredness. At least 80% of the population of the world consumes caffeine each day from different sources.[1] That’s why products with caffeine have a massive global market with plenty of demand.

Caffeine leaves the stomach for the small intestines and into the bloodstream. Its effect in the body begins only 15 minutes after taking it. It also blocks adenosine, a brain chemical that induces sleep. The impact of the blockage restricts blood vessels.

Caffeine also triggers adrenaline that increases heart rate and blood pressure. This causes the body to go into an active and alert mode that keeps you energetic. The effects don’t last because, fortunately, it fades away after a few hours.


Caffeine is not only associated with coffee and tea, but it’s also present in other items. For example, dark chocolate contains 86mg or 22% UL of caffeine per 100g. The cocoa powder contains 198 mg per cup. Sodas also have a considerable amount inside of them. In every 16oz bottle of soda, you will find at least 49mg or 12% UL caffeine.[2]

Energy drinks like red bull, monster, and rockstar are trendy around the world. They also contain a massive amount of caffeine consumers should take note of. Every 8oz of most energy drink brands contains nothing less than 91mg or 23% UL.


How Much Caffeine Is Right for You?

How much caffeine is too much? Well, it depends. According to the U.S Food and Drugs Administration, 400 milligrams a day is okay for adults.[3] That’s about four to five cups of coffee within 24 hours. Anything above this number is dangerous and hazardous for you. But then, people respond to caffeine based on their body system. That’s why everyone needs to study their bodies to know the correct number for them.

Health Benefits of Caffeine

When taken in moderation, caffeine has plenty of health benefits. It can help boost physical performance and promote better productivity. By reducing the desire for food consumption, caffeine also provides support for losing weight. There is the aspect of thermogenesis where the body produces more heat to digest food and burn fat. Most products with thermogenesis in the label contain caffeine.

People who are into sports will also benefit from drinking caffeine. It contains polyphenol antioxidants. This compound opens neural pathways in the brain to improve innovative thinking. The liver and colon find caffeine helpful when it increases glutathione. More glutathione also increases detoxification of the liver and promotes better health.

Caffeine may also protect people from eye conditions like blepharospasm and cataracts. There are suggestions that it may help protect against skin, mouth, and throat cancers. Caffeine is good for your skin because it contains collagen-boosting Caffeic acid. Caffeic acid also has antimicrobial properties that help to fight germs and diseases.

Side Effects of Too Much Caffeine

Is caffeine bad for you? How much should you take? What are the side effects of taking excess? Irresponsible consumption will lead to side effects. Some people have fallen sick while others have developed severe medical problems. One of the biggest concerns with caffeine is the increase in blood pressure.

Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, taking too much of it can put you at risk. Too much caffeine can also interfere with some hormones that keep arteries widened.[4] The blood pressure will take effect and last for three hours. After that, it begins to subside, and you’ll get yourself back. If you notice your blood pressure increasing while drinking coffee, reduce your intake or stop it. You may also see the doctor for clarification to understand how coffee affects you.


Some people also experience stomach irritation and discomfort after taking food with caffeine. That’s because caffeine stimulates the gastrointestinal tract in some people. Too much of it can cause nausea, diarrhea, and significant stomach cramping. People who experience stomach issues after taking caffeine need to stop. If they take small quantities and feel fine, they may stick to that.

There is also the problem of coffee or caffeine leading to weight gain. Caffeine helps you lose weight by boosting your metabolism. But too much of it can cause weight gain when it affects sleep. People who can’t sleep will watch TV and binge eat. They also have less energy for exercise, and all that contributes to weight gain. Drinking coffee at bars may also lead to weight gain. That’s because many of these bars prepare coffee with sugars and added calories. When taking too much, the result may be weight gain.

Caffeine acts as an enzyme that stimulates heart intensity and contraction, but too much consumption can also affect the heart by increasing blood pressure. Consuming plenty of it from energy drinks may lead to a faster heartbeat. This causes atrial fibrillation, a condition that causes abnormal heart rhythm or arrhythmia. If not treated on time, the problem can lead to serious heart issues that may be fatal.

Symptoms of atrial fibrillation include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and extreme fatigue. Apart from high blood pressure, it can also increase stroke. Young people should be careful when taking energy drinks. The caffeine inside is lethal, so you need to consume it in moderation and with care.

Caffeine Addiction

Caffeine has a limited effect on dopamine, the chemical that causes addiction to substances. But still, people have found themselves drinking more coffee daily than they should. Many of them can’t stop or reduce the habit, so they can be said to be addicted to caffeine or coffee. When caffeine becomes an addiction, the individual acquires physical dependence.

How to Know if You’re Addicted

You can detect addiction through withdrawal symptoms. Most people experience certain discomforts 12 to 24 hours after taking caffeine. One of the symptoms of caffeine addiction is headaches. Taking caffeine narrows the blood vessels. When you stop taking it, blood starts rushing again into your system. This can lead to severe headaches.

Caffeine boosts your energy and makes you come alive. When you stop taking it, your body will notice it and crave it. If your body can’t find additional supplies for hours, it becomes tired. Extreme fatigue after a long time of not taking caffeine is a symptom of addiction. Some people also feel heightened anxiety when they stop taking it for a long time. Depressed mood, irritability, and tremors are also related to withdrawal.


How to Overcome Addiction

You can overcome caffeine addiction by taking responsibility. People who’re exposed to health issues need to take this more seriously and make changes fast. Don’t stop caffeine at once. Start by reducing the amount you consume. Reduce consumption by one cup every week and see how you progress.[5] If you take coffee from a particular bar in the morning, find an alternative route to work. Limit the temptation by avoiding your favorite coffee shop.

If you prepare coffee at home, once the last supply is finished, don’t buy more. Some people break their addiction by opting for caffeine-free herbal tea. You get better by the day and improve your resistance against your addiction.

Tips for Safe Consumption

To live a healthy life, one must take responsibility. That includes taking the right amount of caffeine and avoiding addiction. You also need to take it so that it benefits your health and not the other way round.

Here are some tips to help you:

  • Avoid taking too much caffeine.
  • Pay attention to how many cups of coffee you should drink in a day and stick to it.
  • Avoid loading your coffee with sugar because it may lead to weight gain.
  • Caffeine taken after 2 pm will affect your sleep cycle.
  • If you’re a coffee-lover, try to add cinnamon once in a while for extra health benefits.
  • If you feel you’re taking too much, don’t be afraid to cut back.

Take charge of your caffeine habit and stay healthy.


Caffeine is a drug that occurs naturally and offers both good and bad. Too much of it is bad for your body, heart, liver, and skin. You need to consider its side effects and benefits before it starts to affect you. If you’re addicted, learn to fight back and regain your health. Caffeine is good for you but only in moderation.

More About Caffeine

Featured photo credit: Jessica Lewis via unsplash.com


[1]ScienceDirect: Chapter 30 – Caffeine: An Evaluation of the Safety Database
[2]Harvard School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source
[3]U.S. Food & Drug Administration: Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine is Too Much?
[4]MedlinePlus: Caffeine
[5]Johns Hopkins University: Caffeine use disorder: It’s real, and it warrants more attention
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