I was sipping on a giant mug of warm, delicious coffee as I read this recent story about Johns Hopkins research on caffeine addiction. And then I felt kind of guilty. And then I poured myself another cup.
But at least I’m not alone; according to researchers, “caffeine is the most commonly used drug in the world,” consumed by 90 percent (!) of U.S. adults on a regular basis. Which is okay… up to a point.
The article reveals that the average caffeine addict consumes about 200 mg per day, which is perfectly healthy; according to the FDA, up to 400 mg daily is fine. But it’s also alarmingly easy to go over the limit, considering that an 8 ounce cup of brewed coffee can contain anywhere from 100 to 200 mg — and most of us don’t drink our coffee in 8 ounce portions these days. And don’t forget to factor in the caffeine you consume in energy drinks, sodas, and teas.
According to the researchers, overdoing caffeine can cause cardiovascular problems and perinatal complications. And it can also get you intoxicated, after a fashion: According to Steven Meredith from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, caffeine intoxication is “characterized by various symptoms, including nervousness, insomnia, gastrointestinal upset, tachycardia, and muscle twitches. In addition, following chronic caffeine consumption, abstinence can result in a clearly defined withdrawal syndrome consisting of headache, fatigue, drowsiness, depressed mood, irritability, difficulty concentrating, nausea, and vomiting.”
If you’re concerned about your consumption, Meredith suggests making a daily caffeine diary, in which you log the number of milligrams consumed to see if you’re within healthy limits. Or you could always switch to decaf.
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