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Are You Consuming Too Much Caffeine?

Caffeine can be like magic. It helps you stay up late, wake up early, and increase your overall productivity. It’s almost as if the whole concept of caffeination is too good to be true.

In an attempt to cope with an increasingly fast-paced culture, teens and adults alike have turned to caffeine as pretty much their only source of energy. That’s not a groundbreaking observation, but we should be concerned with the fact that so few even consider the potential harms of caffeine at all.

The Mayo Clinic released a study arguing that 400 milligrams of caffeine is the maximum that adults should be consuming. That’s the amount found in approximately four cups of coffee, 10 cans of soda, or two energy drinks, according to the clinic. The study also asserts that teens should only be consuming 100 milligrams. That would be one cup of coffee or two and a half cans of soda or half of an energy drink. When’s the last time you cut yourself off after one cup?

Of course, different people react differently to caffeine, but there are general trends and side effects of overconsumption, which include insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat, muscle tremors, dizziness, shakiness, headaches, and dehydration.

According to the Mayo Clinic, these are most common in people who regularly consume upwards of 500 milligrams of caffeine per day. Research has also shown that men are more susceptible to the harms of caffeine than women are.

It’s important to know that caffeine continues to have an effect even after you “crash.” According to the Canadian Medical Association Journal, 140 milligrams of caffeine can stay in your system for up to 14 hours. This means that even once the immediate effects of the drug wear off and exhaustion begins to hit, you may still find yourself unable to fall asleep. The Lagone Medical Center has also observed that teens who drink caffeinated beverages in the place of healthy options like milk or juice are at a higher risk for nutrient deficiency.

If you find yourself becoming dependent on caffeine, or if you fit the criteria of someone who’s consuming too much, you may want to reevaluate your intake. The Mayo Clinic recommends keeping track of how much caffeine you consume since it may be more than you think. The clinic also encourages going decaf (even though decaf beverages still contain small amounts of caffeine despite the way they are often advertised) and to gradually cut down on your overall intake.

Another good tip is to check out the ingredients in your pain relievers since many over-the-counter products contain much more caffeine than necessary.

All of this isn’t meant to scare you into giving up caffeine altogether. That would be a difficult thing for many of us, but it’s important to understand what you’re doing to your body. You’ve only got one, and you’re going to have to live with it forever.

Adolescence is the time to form good habits, and it’s all too often that we forget that. This isn’t about stressing out over that one caffeine-fueled all-nighter you pulled last year before exams. It’s about becoming more aware of your relationship with caffeine in general.


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