Monday, July 20, 2015

Regulations on caffeine use

By: Jeanette Andrade PhD, RDN, LDN

I’m not going to lie, I love having a cup or 2 or 3 or even more cups of coffee on a daily basis. Even if it is hot outside and hot inside, I will have a cup. In fact my in-laws live in Ecuador where we really do not use the fans or air conditioning at all, so it is about 80 degrees or so in the house. I still have a nice, piping hot cup of coffee in the morning and at night. I tell my students it’s not because I crave caffeine as there have been many times when I do not have caffeine and feel fine. I think I just like the taste of coffee. What is the point of these few sentences? Well, there are new regulations out about the use of caffeine in products. Certainly coffee naturally has caffeine, so these regulations are more for the products that synthetically add caffeine to products such as the energy drinks or even the refined caffeine powders to add into protein supplements or a glass of water to give one that boost of energy. It surprises me that people overuse caffeine on a daily basis and so because of this regulations need to be out there. Now having 4 or more cups of coffee on certain days, yes, I am a guilty over user of caffeine, but I am talking about those who have 2 or more of the energy drinks on a daily basis.
A student once told me she would take at least 2, 5-hour energy drinks throughout the day as she needed to get through her day (i.e. working 2 part-time jobs and school). I asked her if consuming those drinks cause her issues. She said many times she gets jittery, so feels like the caffeine works. I asked her why she doesn’t use natural caffeine products for that boost and she told me she doesn’t get those odd side effects and cannot stay up late, so feels like those natural products don’t work for her. The good thing was she was telling me this as the reports started to come in about banning certain caffeine products due to the terrible side effects (e.g. death). I explained this to her and she said she would use caution and limit her use, but there she was each Monday night drinking a 5 hour energy drink in my classroom!
Now you are likely wondering, “well I do the same thing with caffeine- consuming it from natural sources or from synthetic sources and heard that it is ok in limited amounts.” The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has provided their scientific opinion in regards to the safe consumption of caffeine from all types of caffeinated products. The particular working group, EFSA dietetic, nutrition, and allergies reported that adults can consume 200 mg or 3 mg/kgBW on a daily basis. The tolerable limit is up to 400 mg/kgBW on a daily basis. Pregnant, lactating adult females, and children should not consume more than 200 mg/kgBW on a daily basis. For those who work out less than 2 hours per day, 200 mg of caffeine during that workout time does not appear to cause any harm (EFSA, 2015). What does 200 or 400 mg of caffeine actually look like in portion sizes? Well, here is a list of products and their caffeine amounts:

Starbucks 12 ounce coffee = 260 mg
Brewed 8 ounce herbal tea = 0 mg
Regular 12 ounce can of soda = ~ 35 mg
5-hour energy shot = 208 mg
9 Hershey kisses = 9 mg
Caffeine powder (1/16 tsp) = 200 mg (Center for Science in Public Interest, 2014)

If you would like a complete list of products that contain caffeine, please visit:

Does this mean now you cannot enjoy your caffeine? No, like any food substance, you need to moderate your amount. So go and enjoy your cup of coffee.

Center for Science in Public Interest (2014). Caffeine Content of Food & Drugs. Retrieved from

European Food Safety Authority (2015). Scientific Opinion on the Safety of Caffeine. Retrieved from


24 Wellness said...

Very good informative post on caffeine use and safety concerns related to overconsumption of synthetic sources of caffeine. Thanks for sharing!

Eli Joseph said...

Yeah, I have also heard that regular caffeine use is not good for health and if you really wish to stay active instead of caffeine you should include Green energy drinks. I take them as part of my daily diet and my health has improved a lot since then.

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