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6 things to know about caffeine

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4. It’s not recommended for kids.

“There are no set amounts of caffeine that have been shown to be safe for children,” said Julie Stefanski, a York, PA-based registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Caffeine can impact a child’s ability to concentrate and interrupt good sleeping patterns, so it’s best to steer clear of caffeine.”

Still, experts acknowledge caffeinated products may be difficult to avoid.

“Teens should try to limit caffeine consumption to no more than 100 mg of caffeine daily, and kids should get even less,” advises KidsHealth, an online resource of the Nemours Foundation.

5. Your body may be telling you to cut back.

The Food and Drug Administration lists several symptoms of caffeine overconsumption. They are:

  • Insomnia
  • Jitters
  • Anxiousness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dysphoria (feeling unhappy)

“If you’re having caffeine and you’re noticing that it’s interfering with your concentration rather than heightening it, then I think that’s a barrier to your health,” said Audrey Dombrowski, a registered dietitian at St. Louis-based SSM Health. “That’s just listening to your body and realizing it’s too much for you.”

If you experience any of these symptoms, Lynn Eaton, a registered dietitian at Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City, MO, recommends hydrating and doing your best to relax and let the caffeine metabolize.

“Usually, caffeine is out of a person’s system within four to six hours,” Eaton said, “and it tends to have its peak effect around an hour after you’ve ingested caffeine. So, generally, just kind of let it run its course.”

6. You may want to check with your doctor about how much you drink.

In a study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine in 2016, researchers found that consumption of energy drinks – which often contain large amounts of caffeine – is related to 20,000 emergency room visits each year, most often because of cardiovascular effects.

The National Library of Medicine recommends talking with your doctor about safe levels of caffeine consumption if you:

  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Have trouble sleeping.
  • Have migraines or other chronic headaches.
  • Have anxiety.
  • Have gastroesophageal reflux disease or ulcers.
  • Have fast or irregular heart rhythms.
  • Have high blood pressure.
  • Take certain medicines or supplements, including stimulants, certain antibiotics, asthma medications and heart medications. Adverse reactions between caffeine and medicines may result.

“Caffeine is generally a safe substance,” Eaton said. “It has some beneficial effects, and each person has a different tolerance to different amounts of caffeine. What I would advise is finding a level that works for that person and sticking with that, as possible.”

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