Caffeine Habit 101: How Much Coffee is Too Much Coffee?

The internet is abuzz about your coffee habit: a new, highly caffeinated coffee brand, Black Insomnia, came out with the "world's strongest coffee." Just like when the Brewdog released their latest 41 percent ABV beer, Sink the Bismark, or when Pepsi re-released the clearest cola on the market, the online world loves a new 'best,' and Black Insomnia is the strongest.

Among all of the articles that reinvigorate claims that your coffee causes heart palpitations and leads to imminent death, I have to ask myself: Is my coffee habit really that bad for me?

The Effects of Caffeine

Everyone is different, so of course caffeine affects everyone a little bit differently. I personally can't drink coffee after 3pm and get a good night's sleep. Coffee at 2:59 pm and before? No problem!

I have a friend who can take a shot of espresso right before settling down for a perfect eight hours of amazing sleep, and another friend can't even drink a cup of morning joe without becoming an insomniac.

So knowing that caffeine treats everyone differently, let's take a look at what "they" say about your coffee habit: how much caffeine is too much for normal, healthy adults? What is this "limit" that everyone keeps referring to?

The FDA suggests 300-400mg of caffeine (approximately four 8-ounce mugs cups of coffee or 10 cans of cola,) as a generally acceptable upward limit. Consume more than this and studies on coffee drinkers have reported both minimal and terrifying negative effects.

An increased caffeine intake sees common symptoms of nervousness, anxiety, an upset stomach, acid reflux, insomnia, and increased heart rate after consuming caffeine in a higher capacity.

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However, for those respondents who are seasoned coffee drinkers, not feeding their caffeine habit can result in caffeine withdrawal symptoms with adverse effects. Those include emotional and mental states, such as depression, dysphoria, and caffeine sensitivity.

The more serious health issues can include nausea, hypertension (high blood pressure), headaches, gastrointestinal disturbance (diarrhea), and heart palpitations or cardiac arrhythmia.

So, Are There Positive Effects of Caffeine?

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Some studies show that caffeine can actually enhance performance on mental tasks, as well as improving memory and reasoning in sleep-deprived people. For athletes, it's also been shown to improve athletic performance, not only delaying fatigue but actually improving endurance for a short period of time.

In fact, Serena Williams had an espresso shot in the middle of a tennis match (that she won, by the way). It's important to know that it's not a magic drug, it helps you to reach your peak mental alertness, but it won't put you at a level above your current physical capability.

Caffeine is well known for being a diuretic, so you might think that it has a negative effect on hydration but that one is a myth too: the Institute of Medicine concluded that caffeinated beverages with sufficient liquid levels, such as coffee, have a positive contributor to daily water intake.

What Else is in my Cup of Coffee?

In addition to caffeine, the hot water extracts over a thousand chemicals formed during the roasting process, including antioxidants. Remember the acai berry craze when everyone was freaking out about how high these berries are in antioxidants? Well, it's in coffee, too, and actually is a huge source of our diet, outranking fruits and vegetables.

Studies also find that moderate intake of coffee by generally healthy people has been linked with reduced risk of type-2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.

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They have also found an inverse association between coffee consumption and mortality: In a study that followed over five million people over the course of 13 years, people who drank coffee and decaf coffee had a lower mortality rate and died less of respiratory disease, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

That's definitely a check in the health benefits column for everyone's favorite caffeinated stimulant. Everyone's individual tolerance is different, so a good choice for how many milligrams you should drink each day is solely dependent on how your body responds to high doses of caffeine content, whether it's from coffee or energy drinks or natural methods.

The Last Word: Is my Coffee Habit Good or Bad?

The Altantic

If you need that cup of coffee every morning, you're part of the 90 percent of Americans that enjoy coffee, and the rest of the world is drinking more coffee than we are in the United States. So, while there are risks with consuming too much caffeine, it's probably okay to have that second cup of coffee.

And, if you're one of the people who has built up a caffeine tolerance over time, have at the super-caffeinated-est coffee of all time. Oh, and if you're wondering how much caffeine will kill you, check out this nifty calculator.

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