When is too much coffee too much? What professionals and research have to say about the appropriate boundary

It can be simple to grab for an extra cup of coffee during the day for an energy boost, a mood boost, or a sweet afternoon treat when summer iced coffees give way to seasonal fall lattes.

Long-term health benefits of coffee include a lower chance of cancer, heart failure, Type 2 diabetes, and even mortality, in addition to a momentary boost in energy. But there are some restrictions: Additionally, studies have demonstrated a relationship between high coffee intake and an increased risk of dementia, stroke, and cardiovascular disease death in coffee drinkers with hypertension.

So where do you draw the line between enjoying the advantages of a morning coffee and going too far?

Coffee is safe and beneficial, but persons with pre-existing health concerns may experience more of its negative side effects, according to the research and four doctors and nutritionists with whom we spoke.

And even while there is “strong and consistent” evidence that moderate coffee use is not dangerous, Tricia Psota, a dietitian with Nutrition on Demand and a member of the American Society for Nutrition, noted that this does not imply that coffee should be drank for health reasons.

Psota stated, “I would never advise anyone who don’t currently use caffeinated beverages to start doing so for any reason.

How much coffee might be harmful to you?
A daily caffeine intake limit of 400 milligrams, or around four to five 8-ounce cups of coffee, is advised by the Food and Drug Administration. According to the FDA, most people are unlikely to encounter major adverse effects from caffeine until they ingest 1,200 mg, or approximately 12 cups, in a single day. These side effects can include irregular heartbeat, vomiting, seizures, diarrhea, and even death.

But even 400 milligrams of caffeine per day can occasionally have negative side effects, such as jitteriness, anxiety, and insomnia, according to Psota.

She claimed that while some people can easily consume four to five cups of coffee each day, others may just have lower caffeine tolerances and be more vulnerable to its negative effects. Psota claimed that she has discovered that her body can only endure one or two cups of coffee every day.

“I’ve noticed that on days when I may have not slept as well the night before and go over that point, I just feel jittery and uncomfortable,” she claimed. Therefore, I unquestionably adhere to that FDA suggestion, for myself. Psota advises against consuming more caffeine than 200 mg, or around two cups, per day when pregnant or nursing because it can pass through breast milk to the fetus. Although a 2021 study indicated that pregnant persons who drank moderate levels of caffeine were at a lower risk for gestational diabetes than those who didn’t, research has shown that caffeine intake during pregnancy can result in lower birth weights for neonates.

Adding sugar or cream to a regular cup of coffee may increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes, according to Nikki Cota, a dietician at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Cota claimed to have observed fancy coffee shop drinks with up to 50 grams of sugar, which is the maximum amount of added sugar the FDA advises daily consumption for those consuming 2,000 calories.

Despite drinking two 12-ounce cups of coffee daily, Cota said she typically brews them herself to limit the amount of added sugar.

She warned, “Be careful of that pumpkin spice latte with the sugar and the calories.”

When should coffee drinking be discontinued?
According to Jessica Sylvester, a dietitian at the Florida Nutrition Group and a spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, some people may experience coffee’s adverse effects more as they grow older because the body’s capacity to handle certain substances and foods changes with time.

“Within those milligram or cup of coffee suggestions, if you start feeling overly worn out and the caffeine is not helping, then you’ve got to stop,” Sylvester advised. “You must stop if your heart begins to beat really quickly. Everybody experiences it differently.

Sylvester claimed that she used to start each morning with a double shot of espresso in almond milk, but that she has since lost the practice of doing so and now frequently sips the beverage into the afternoon.

She remarked, “I used to be able to drink more than that, but I can’t any longer.” I experience headaches, and things don’t work out.

For younger people, especially teenagers, coffee might be risky. No amount of caffeine is good for adolescents, according to Dr. David Buchholz, a pediatrician at the Irving Medical Center of Columbia University. However, he claimed that businesses have been actively marketing caffeinated energy drinks to kids in recent years.

With regard to coffee, Buchholz claimed that he observes patients beginning to form the habit in their adolescence, when they have greater control over their diets and are juggling heavier workloads and schedules. For teenagers, Buchholz said he wouldn’t advise consuming more than 100 milligrams per day, or around one 8-ounce cup of coffee.

“If a teenager drinks one cup of coffee and they, their family, and they don’t experience any negative side effects, there probably isn’t any harm,” he said. “But different people have different sensitivities, so the first thing I would do if that person complained about not being able to sleep at night is avoid caffeine.

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