Here’s a jolting statistic: 26 percent of American adult coffee drinkers confess they’re addicted to java, according to a recent Gallup poll.
If you’re one of those coffee junkies or you’re simply among the 64 percent of American adults who down at least one cup of coffee a day, how much is too much of the world’s most popular caffeinated beverage? There’s no standard answer. In fact, you might want to pour another cup of coffee after reading this story.
Dr. William Cimikoski, a medical toxicologist, says adults typically can consume an average cup of coffee — with roughly 200 milligrams of caffeine — every four hours without brewing too much of a buzz. But that amount of caffeine isn’t one cup fits all. Depending on the type or brand of caffeinated coffee, the every-four-hour milligram count that an adult can stomach ranges from 90 to 500 milligrams, he says.
“The amount that may result in adverse effects in individuals is quite variable. Every person is able to tolerate a different amount before they might experience adverse effects,” Cimikoski says.
Certified health coach Lula Brown says that no matter your tolerance level for caffeine, these are five of the signs that you’ve gulped too much coffee:
- Anxiousness, nervousness and shakiness.
- Brain “fog” and forgetfulness.
- Upset digestive system.
- Breakouts and rashes.
“Most people will simply stop drinking any more coffee when they start to feel a little nausea or restlessness, and then the symptoms will subside,” Cimikoski says.
If someone occasionally experiences mild symptoms of caffeine overload from coffee, long-term harm isn’t in the cards if he or she merely “dials back” consumption, according to Cimikoski.
Dr. Morton Tavel, a cardiologist who is clinical professor emeritus of medicine at Indiana University’s medical school, points out that coffee actually might improve your health. Potential benefits include a modest reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes, hypertension, obesity and depression, he says. Furthermore, Tavel says, regular coffee consumption might even play a modest role in preventing heart disease and stroke.
Here are some other positives of consuming coffee:
- An American Cancer Society study concluded that people who drank more than four cups of caffeinated coffee a day were half as likely to die from certain oral cancers than those who occasionally or never drank coffee.*
- Researchers from Sweden found that drinking coffee reduced the risk of a specific type of breast cancer.*
- Researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston discovered that guys who consumed the amount of caffeine you’d find in two to three cups of coffee a day were less likely to have erectile dysfunction than other guys.*
- Drinking caffeinated coffee might lower your risk of developing multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, research shows.*
- Coffee consumption might cut the risk of alcohol-related liver disease, researchers at Kaiser Permanente*, found.*
“Overall, coffee seems to receive a reasonably clean bill of health, provided it is not consumed in excess,” Tavel says.
While the daily ceiling for safe consumption of caffeinated coffee hasn’t been clearly established, two to three cups a day “appears to be safe … or at least it does not seem to possess any significant dangers,” he says.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.