How Much Coffee is Too Much?
Countless undeniable benefits come with drinking coffee and scientists are still discovering new ones now and then. From reduced risk of getting type 2 diabetes and Parkinson's disease to delaying the onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease, coffee does a lot of good to the body.
But before you decide to increase your daily coffee intake by several cups to get more of these benefits, first you need to know how much coffee is too much.
And while the quantity of coffee that will be enough for you will vary from one person to the other, in this piece, we highlight key issues that will help you decide your maximum dose of a caffeine fix.
What is Caffeine Sensitivity?
While coffee is generally a safe and healthy beverage that almost anyone can take, the fact that it contains caffeine means that it will not be safe for anyone. Also, different bodies will react differently to coffee.
Hence, some people do not need to consume much of it for it to become a problem because even little amounts of coffee can have some adverse effects on them. Coffee or caffeine sensitivity can be classified into 3 key groups which include hyper-sensitive, normal and hypo-sensitivity.
Hyper-sensitive individuals are those that cannot tolerate even small amounts of coffee and will get jitters, accelerated heartbeats and insomnia even after taking a small cup of coffee. Normal coffee drinkers can tolerate around 400mg of caffeine while the hypo-sensitive ones are those that can comfortably take massive doses of coffee without any side effects.
What are the Safe Amounts of Caffeine Intake?
The safe amount of caffeine for you will depend on whether you are hyper, normal or hypo sensitive as different people will react differently to caffeine. But besides your caffeine sensitivity, your age and health condition will also determine how much coffee is safe for you.
For most healthy adults, it is safe to take up to 400mg of caffeine a day without seeing any side effects like insomnia and jitters. And for pregnant women, not more than 300mg of caffeine is recommended as their daily intake.
While children between 4 and 12 years can still take coffee, it should not be more than 2.5mg per kilo of body weight and those under 4 years old should not take any caffeine at all. And if you suffer from conditions like type 2 diabetes, hypertension and arrhythmia, make sure your daily caffeine intake never exceeds 200mg.
Symptoms and Signs of Excess Coffee Consumption
Coffee has a way of lifting your moods and boosting your energy levels, and you can easily find yourself taking cup after cup and fail to notice when you exceed the healthy limits.
However, watching out for the following symptoms and signs will ensure you can easily tell when you need to stop your intake.
1. Restlessness and Anxiety
Coffee is supposed to calm your nerves, but if you take too much of it, the beverage can cause the exact opposite which is leaving you restless and anxious. And it will do this by keeping you awake and according to some experts, it can also trigger your inbuilt flight/fight response and hence making you restless.
2. Stomach Hurts
Before you jump into conclusion that your stomach hurts because of things like food poisoning, you should first start by cutting down your caffeine intake. Some compounds in coffee will encourage the production of stomach acids, and if they are produced in excess amounts due to taking too much coffee, they will cause your stomach to hurt.
3. Heart Racing
A fast-beating heart is another sign that you are drinking way too much coffee than your body can handle. Caffeine is a stimulant that will have the same effects on your heart as other things like nicotine and alcohol and hence when you take too much coffee, it will cause the heart to beat a little too fast.
4. Increased Headaches
For many coffee drinkers, a caffeine fix is always the perfect remedy for a headache. But, what you might not know is that a headache can also be a sign that you are drinking too much coffee. Drinking more than 5 cups of coffee (around 500mg or more) daily can lead to caffeine withdrawal and headaches are one of the main symptoms of this.
5. Developing Jitters
A good cup of coffee will leave you alert and more attentive but when you take it in excess amounts, this good feeling can become too much and this is when jitters set in. Because the caffeine in coffee tends to speed up the nervous system, it can cause you to feel jumpy after taking one too many cups.
Potential Health Risks of Consuming Too Much Coffee
In the long run, taking too much coffee can also have some potential health risk. Not everybody is exposed to these risks given the different caffeine tolerance levels, but it is still important to know them to be on the safe side.
1. Caffeine is Addictive
Caffeine is an addictive substance which perhaps should explain why you find it impossible to step out of the house without getting your fix in the morning. But, the more of it you take, the more likely you are to get hooked up to it. If you take too much coffee, there is a greater chance that you will end up depending on its effects to function normally.
2. Can Cause High Blood Pressure
While caffeine does not seem to increase the risk of stroke or heart disease in most people, its stimulatory effects can cause high blood pressure. And as science dictates, high blood pressure increases your risk of both stroke and heart attack. But, the good news here is that the effects of taking caffeine on blood pressure are temporary.
3. May Lead to Insomnia
The alertness that comes with taking coffee is always much welcome especially when you need to remain awake to work on something. But, taking too much coffee can make this alertness a constant for you in the long run and hence causing insomnia which means you will find it hard to sleep. And if you are like many coffee drinkers, you will always be tempted to grab a quick cup of coffee when you cannot sleep not knowing you are only worsening things.
4. Increased Urination Frequency and Urgency
Caffeine's stimulatory effect can also lead to increased urination frequency and urgency. While this might not look like a serious problem, it will affect your life and how you do things significantly and is also inconvenient.
Can Coffee Kill You?
Yes, taking too much coffee can kill you. However, you would have to take very high doses of it for the caffeine to kill you. To be more specific, a lethal caffeine dosage is one that is over 150mg per kilo of the body which translates to about 10,500mg of caffeine for a healthy 70-kilogram adult male. What this means is that a 70kg man would have to consume 105 8-ounce cups of coffee with at least 100mg of caffeine each.
Coffee does your body a lot of good from keeping you alert to helping with digestion, but this is only true if you do not take excessive amounts of it.
Excess amount of coffee, on the other hand, will pose several health risks such as addiction, high blood pressure, and insomnia. But the good news is that you can easily take care of these potential health risk by simply reducing your coffee intake.
Taking coffee in moderation will ensure that you can get its many benefits and also have a refreshing beverage you can enjoy when you need to relax.
And lastly, also keep in mind that caffeine tolerance varies from one person to the other and also depends on your age and health condition. This will mean that what might be too much coffee in a day for you will not be necessarily unsafe for the next person.