Safe caffeine intake has often been debated, but the question about is coffee safe has yet to be resolved. With the many different coffee drinks and energy boosters out there, all with widely varying amounts of caffeine, it’s hard for anyone to know just how much you’re taking in each day. Truth is, you’re probably taking in more than you think without even realizing it.
The caffeine content in a cup of your favorite morning beverage depends on just how large the cup, how finely ground the coffee is, what sort of roasting process it’s been through, how it was brewed, the amount of coffee in the drink and even the variety of coffee bean that was used. That means that a mug of instant will have a different caffeine content from that cup you brew in your kitchen. Home made is also different from what you buy at the local coffee place.
Caffeine is a natural part of coffee as well as tea, chocolate and energy drinks. It also appears in soft drinks and some medicines such as pain relievers, diet pills and cold remedies. People react differently to this substance; some are more sensitive than others and may well have to alter their intake. For example pregnant women.
The maximum intake of caffeine for a pregnant woman, according a 2008 recommendation from the Food Standards Agency, is no more than 200mg of caffeine a day. This works out to 2 mugs of coffee or 4 cups. Taking in too much caffeine during pregnancy could lead to miscarriage or a lower birth weight than it might have been. Too much caffeine during pregnancy can also up the chances of some health problems later on in life.
The FSA had earlier called for a maximum daily amount of 300mg, but research has suggested a lower amount would be even better. The study discovered that caffeine is rapidly absorbed by the body of a pregnant woman and crossed into the placenta easily, circulating through the unborn child. Too much caffeine was able to interfere with placenta blood flow and affect the baby’s growth.
Your best bet, while pregnant, is to alter the liquids you drink. You don’t need to avoid caffeine completely, but you’ll want to be sure to include other beverages as well. Try decaffeinated tea or coffee, fruit juice and water. And be sure to limit the number of energy drinks you consume, as these can have high volumes of caffeine. As for the rest of us, the advice isn’t so clear.
In general 4 to 5 cups of coffee, about 400mg of caffeine, is safe for most people.
Coffee does, in fact, have some benefits…
It can increase alertness, up performance and heighten mental ability because it stimulates the central nervous system. There’s a US study that found women who consumed a minimum of 2 cups of coffee per day had less chance of being depressed. It may also be linked to a lower chance of prostate cancer, breast cancer and perhaps protect against Alzheimer’s disease.