How Much Is Too Much Caffeine?

While caffeine can provide an often necessary boost of energy, it’s important to remember that it is a stimulant, not a nutrient and too much caffeine is unhealthy. According to the 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for America, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, most of the caffeine consumed in the United States comes from coffee, tea, and soda. Because of our obsession with these drinks, the US has a very high rate of caffeine tolerance and addiction.

Caffeine tolerance and addiction is a very serious problem that millions face every day. A surprising number of individuals who are addicted to caffeine are senior adults who have been consuming this enhancing chemical for most of their lives.

The impact that caffeine has on the body is not a constant thing. A person who is drinking caffeine for the first time or the first time in years will have a stronger reaction to it than someone who has been drinking it every day for years and years.

This means that your elderly family member may already be highly accustomed to caffeine and its addictive nature or they may have recently started drinking it as part of an effort to stay awake and be more energized as they age and are now seeing the effects of an addiction set in. In either case, it is important to understand how too much caffeine can develop a tolerance and addiction.  These together can impact your elderly loved ones.



How Fast Does Caffeine Tolerance and Addiction Happen?

Many studies have been conducted about the effect caffeine has on the body and how tolerance and addiction occurs. Researchers have found some shocking figures- caffeine tolerance can occur in less than a week when caffeine levels are high enough and maintained at a constant enough rate.

Other studies have shown that caffeine tolerance occurs partially because the human brain quickly develops more adenosine receptors that compensate for what gets blocked by the caffeine. It is a vicious cycle that quickly leads from tolerance to a full-blown caffeine addiction just as what has been seen to occur in the brain with drug addictions to more potent drugs and chemicals such as opioid pain pills or steroids.



Caffeine Awareness

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much time at all for most people to start consuming dangerous levels of caffeine in order to get that ‘high’ each day. What used to come with 1-2 cups of coffee now require 5. This is when too much caffeine becomes a bad thing. Many people know obvious extremes are bad, but they fail to see how extreme their own caffeine addictions are.

It’s only natural to look into things that will affect your day-to-day life and National Caffeine Awareness Month is the perfect time to see how you’re affected by consuming caffeine daily, allowing you to make the choices that are best for your mental and physical health.

It is important to take steps to limit caffeine consumption, or avoid consuming too much caffeine,  and reduce the chances for addiction and abuse, particularity among the elderly who will be much more sensitive to its effects. Here are a few things everyone can do to reduce the amount of caffeine we consume:

Drink More Water- caffeine will have a less negative impact on your body if you are well hydrated and are drinking enough of the good stuff each day.

Monitor Caffeine Intake– you do not have to give up caffeine entirely, but you should work to limit your intake to only a few servings of coffee or soda a day.

Talk With Your Doctor- if you are worried about the amount of caffeine you or a loved one may be consuming bring it up with your health care provider for their advice.

Support Family and Friends- a great way to beat the caffeine addiction s to cut back and work on it together with friends and family as a supportive team.



Final Take Away

About 400 milligrams of caffeine a day – or about four cups of coffee – is considered safe for most healthy adults, though you should always keep in mind that caffeine content in beverages varies widely and that caffeine affects each of us differently. So be vigilant and pay attention to your body and look for warning signs of tolerance and addiction in yourself as well as in your loved ones! Contact us today if you have questions.

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