How Much Caffeine Should You Have Daily and Where Does It Come From?

Caffeine is certainly in my daily meal plan! I don’t think I would be as productive in a day without my morning and afternoon coffee. Especially with Daylight Savings Time approaching, I will be leaning on caffeine a bit more to assist me with alertness. Many use caffeine to cope with this time change! However, we should all be aware that it is important to be mindful of our caffeine consumption. 

Do you know how much caffeine that you’re having in a day? What is caffeine anyways, and how can it impact your health? 

If you have these questions, I’m breaking them all down, as part of Caffeine Awareness Month. I’m teaming up with the Canadian Beverage Association to present this information to you today!

Me on our honeymoon in Iceland, sipping on my morning coffee

What Is Caffeine 

Caffeine is one of the world’s favourites “pick me ups” and has known and loved benefits such as decreasing fatigue, increasing focus and concentration. In fact, coffee, tea and tap-water are the most commonly consumed beverages by Canadians, between the ages of 18-79. As well, more than 29 million servings of coffee were consumed in Canada in 2015.

Caffeine is a bitter alkaloid that is naturally found in 60 different plants, including coffee beans, cola nuts, guarana nuts and yerba mate. It can also be synthetically produced and added to soft drinks, energy drinks, dietary supplements and energy bars.

Although there are some health benefits, caffeine should be consumed in moderation to ensure optimal functionality and sleep hygiene.

Health Benefits of Caffeine 

Caffeine is a stimulant and it works by temporarily blocking the systems that slow us down. Due to it being a stimulant, it can help improve physical performance and cognitive function

In fact, it has been found that caffeine before exercise in doses of about 200 mg improve endurance performance, team sport performance and high intensity-type activities (sprints, weight lifting) with little to no risk of side effects at that level of consumption.

In terms of long term health benefits, the following have been found in the literature:

However, it is important not to get too excited about the health benefits of caffeine, as too much is not always a good thing. Risks of too much caffeine intake include:

  • Increased anxiety 
  • Insomnia 
  • Headaches 
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Over-consumption in pregnancy increases risk for low birth weight and preterm labour 

How Much Is Safe? 

Health Canada, the Food and Drug Association FDA, and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) consider 400mg of caffeine to be a safe moderate consumption for the healthy average adult (excluding pregnant and breastfeeding people). EFSA also considers 200mg of caffeine to be a safe single dose of caffeine that most consumers can consume without negative effect (even before sport).

Health Canada recommends that pregnant women or women of childbearing age keep their caffeine intake below 300 mg.

Where Is Caffeine Found?

Source: Canadian Beverage Association

How much caffeine is found in common beverages? 

Coffee (per cup)

  • 95 mg in homebrewed coffee
  • 180 mg in a small coffee house drip 
  • 100 mg in instant coffee 
  • 5 mg in decaf coffee 

Tea (per cup)

  • 47 mg in black tea
  • 30 mg in green tea
  • 0 mg in herbal tea
  • 280 mg in matcha tea powder (4 tsp)

Cola

  • 34mg in diet & regular cola (355ml)

Chocolate products

  • 5 mg in hot chocolate (250 ml)
  • 20 mg in chocolate (per 100 g bar)
  • 36 mg in chocolate cake (80 g)

Energy Drinks:

  • 80 mg in a typical energy drink (250ml)
  • 138 mg in Starbucks double shot energy coffee drink (444 ml)

Tracking Your Caffeine Intake

It may be an interesting exercise to track how much caffeine that you are having in a day – to get a picture of your typical caffeine consumption. I used an app called HiCoffee for a week to track what I was consuming for caffeine in a day and my caffeine intake surprised me! I thought I was consuming under 400 mg of caffeine most days, however there were a few days that I was consuming 500 & 600 mg of caffeine!

I suggest that you try out an app like this. With daylight savings time approaching, this may be a good time to try it out, as our caffeine intake may increase! 

Bottom Line:

Caffeine has health benefits and can assist with alertness, especially during the Daylight Savings ‘Spring Forward’ Time. However, it is important to be mindful of caffeine intake so that we don’t exceed the 400 mg/day or 300 mg during pregnancy.  Potential negative effects of caffeine can range from increased anxiety to sleep deprivation.