What’s the Buzz on Caffeine?

Author name
Duke Student Health Nutrition Services

Thumbnail Caffeine is a drug, which has been used and enjoyed for centuries. Many people use caffeine on a daily basis, whether it’s from coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks to put a little pep in their step and stay awake during less-than-interesting lectures. Keep reading to learn a little more about caffeine, its pros and cons, and how to make healthy choices when you need that extra boost. 

Caffeine comes from a variety of sources, including coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and even chocolate. The amount of caffeine in these foods and beverages varies greatly: 

  • 8 oz. drip coffee: 90-200 mg 
  • 1 espresso shot: 80-150 mg 
  • 8 oz. black tea: 30-80 mg 
  • 8 oz. green tea: 25-60 mg 
  • 1 can of Cola: 35 mg 
  • Energy drinks: 80-350 mg 
  • 1 bar dark chocolate: 15-30 mg 

The recommendation is to keep caffeine consumption less than 300 mg per day. Curious how much caffeine you consume in a day? Check out this website!

Did you know caffeine doesn’t give you energy? 
Caffeine actually blocks a receptor in your brain that makes you feel tired. In other words, caffeine just makes you feel less sleepy.

Caffeine can have both positive and negative effects on health. 

Negative side effects include: elevated blood pressure, anxiousness, withdrawal headaches, and trouble sleeping.  Because caffeine sticks around in your body for quite a while, try quitting caffeine at 2:00 PM. 

Don’t let these negative effects scare you! Moderate amounts of caffeine can have positive health effects as well, including increased focus/concentration, and, if you drink coffee or green tea, antioxidants. Recent research has shown these positive effects of caffeine are seen around 100 mg, a relatively small amount. With caffeine, more is not better.  

A common source of caffeine, especially for college students, is energy drinks. Energy drinks usually have excessive amounts of caffeine, as well as a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners. If you enjoy energy drinks, make them a once-in-a-while treat.  

Remember, excessive caffeine is not a substitute for a balanced diet, adequate sleep, exercise, and mental health. Keep this in mind during midterm weeks for a happier, healthier, caffeinated-in-moderation, you!