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Tuesday, April 27 2021
Spirited Living: Caffeine

By: Judy Fitzgibbons, MS, RD, LD
Registered Dietitian, retired

During January and February of 2020, I led the Spirited Living series at St. Paul's during which we explored seven practices that I consider the foundations of good health.  Group members asked me to offer occasional reminder nudges.  Mary Horn, St. Paul's parish nurse, thinks more of you might enjoy my periodic nutrition and health musings.  This is the first to go into the Health Notes of the printed version of The Outlook and onto the weekly eblast blog page. I pray you find it interesting.

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend a webinar about caffeine and health.  A study published in February 2021 by the American Heart Association found, unexpectedly, lower rates of heart failure in people who daily drank up to 3 cups of coffee with caffeine.  (We call that “leaded” in our house.)  In recent years caffeine has popped up in other foods and can be purchased in powdered and tablet form as well as part of many supplements on the internet.  These are the forms that can be dangerous. Still, most Americans get the bulk of their caffeine from coffee and soft drinks.

The presenter, a PhD toxicologist, discussed the findings of a very large and well done, systematic review of caffeine research. I thought you might find some of her points interesting.

How much caffeine is too much?
Healthy adults can safely consume up to 400mg caffeine daily. How fast you get there depends on the size of your cup. I have quite a range in my cupboard. Left to right they hold  6 ounces, 10 ounces, 12 ounces and 15 ounces. 

Here's a rule-of-thumb list of common caffeine sources you can use to see where your caffeine intake lands. Note serving sizes:

                                                                     Portion   Caffeine
Coffee and coffee drinks with caffeine         8 oz        100 mg
Decaffeinated coffee                                     8 oz        25 mg
Pop with caffeine (colas, Mt. Dew, RC)       20 oz      60 mg
Black tea, brewed                                         8 oz        50 mg
Chocolate milk or cocoa                               8 oz        15 mg
Energy drinks                                               12 oz      100 mg
Very dark chocolate (60 to 70% cacao)        1 ounce  30 mg

Caffeine does cause heart palpitations, higher blood pressure and greater alertness (or insomnia) in some people, but not everyone. This may be related to genetics, according to newer research.

Caffeine is a mild diuretic, sending us to the bathroom, but it does not cause dehydration. Other body systems compensate.

Caffeine, in moderate amounts (400mg or less) does not contribute to bone thinning, fractures or falls.

If that morning or mid-afternoon cup of coffee or tea helps perk you up, enjoy it. It may protect your heart. Just be cautious about loading it down with high-calorie extras.

Note: I am sharing Spirited Living ideas 2 to 4 times a month.  If you would like to receive all of those by email, send me a note at:

Posted by: Judy Fitzgibbons, MS, RD, LD Registered Dietitian, retired AT 02:56 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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