Caffeine and You: How Much is Too Much?

Caffeine, soda
Caffeine, soda
Posted at 5:55 PM, May 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-17 14:53:31-04

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- Late April, Davis Cripe, a South Carolina teenager collapsed and died after consuming too much caffeine in a short time. It's a sobering reminder that a commonly consumed substance can have some very serious side effects.

The average adult should only consume 400 mg or less of caffeine. To put that into perspective a small 8.4 oz. can of regular Red Bull contains 80 mg of caffeine, with larger cans and other brands containing much more. A 20 oz. bottle of Lipton Peach Iced Tea has a fraction of that, with 24 mg of caffeine.

Obviously, since caffeine is found almost everywhere, it can be very difficult limit your intake to less than 400 mg.

Most adults to turn to caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks to help them feel more awake and alert. Though even with adults, having too much caffeine can have side effects.

Some of these effects include a jittery feeling, an increased heart rate, heart palpitations, or even the feeling of being more anxious than usual.

Chances are, if you've felt these side effects, you've continued to feel them long after you've finished your beverage. That's because caffeine can stay in your body for about ten hours, which is why doctors say you should limit your caffeine intake to the morning, especially if you have problems sleeping.

"If you're having any sleep habits at all, I would encourage you to really limit your caffeine consumption, particularly after lunch," says Dr. Matthew Standridge M.D., a doctor at TMH Physician Partners - Southwood. "If you're going to have caffeine, keep it to the first thing in the morning. But if you have issues with sleep, I wouldn't drink caffeine at all."

Of course, much of what has been discussed thus far has been geared toward adults. But what about children and teenagers? 

Well, for young children, doctors don't recommend any caffeine at all. For special occasions like a birthday party, a small glass is OK, but that should be it. Water is really the best drink for kids as it is free of extra sugars and caffeine.

As for teenagers, they should be limited to one, maybe two sodas or coffees a day, but only if they really need it. When it comes to energy drinks, they should be kept away from teenagers altogether.

"For older kids, teenagers, they usually start to consume and it's a little harder to regulate," says Dr.  Maci McDermott, a pediatrician with Capital Regional Medical Center. "They kind of have their own money. They're doing their own thing. Even then, though, I really discourage any energy drinks. They have really high levels of caffeine. Sometimes equaling 10-15 sodas."

Dr. McDermott recommends that parents talk to their teenagers about limiting their caffeine intake. Caffeine may seem benign, but abusing it can lead to unwanted side effects.

With that being said, caffeine in small doses isn't dangerous. However, consuming anything in excess, whether your an adult, teenager, or child, can be bad.

Of course, if you have any questions about caffeine, for yourself or your children, or any side effects you may feel after having a caffeinated beverage, it is always best to talk to your doctor.