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How Much Caffeine is Too Much for Older Adults?

How Much Caffeine is Too Much for Older Adults?

There’s nothing better than waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Well, maybe taking the first few sips of said freshly brewed coffee. According to the Statista Global Consumer Survey, coffee has remained America’s most popular and favorite beverage of choice.

Thanks to its caffeine content, coffee is usually the go-to drink when we need a little jolt, which is usually first thing in the morning (and maybe afternoon). It’s not terribly surprising, but older adults drink more coffee than any other age group. Nearly three-quarters of Americans aged 55 and older enjoy at least one cup per day. The average consumption is about 3.1 cups a day.

While coffee does offer some positive health benefits, such as increased metabolism and improved mood and brain function, it’s important to note that caffeine consumption should be monitored. It’s not just coffee that gives us that little boost, as caffeine is found in many products, and sometimes we can consume too much. So, how much caffeine is too much in older adults?

What Is Caffeine?

Caffeine is a natural substance found in more than 60 species of plants across the globe. Over the years, it has become known as a stimulant drug because of its effect on the central nervous system, causing increased alertness.

When consumed, caffeine is absorbed by the gut into the bloodstream. This process happens pretty quickly. Caffeine can take as little as 20 minutes to reach the bloodstream and about one hour to reach full effectiveness. Hence the immediate jolt we feel after drinking a cup of coffee.

There can be many side effects from caffeine, especially in older adults. Because caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it stimulates urine production, it can cause many seniors to become dehydrated. We just talked about how seniors are more prone to dehydration, so this can become a serious problem if not managed. Other side effects from caffeine include:

  • Insomnia
  • Jitteriness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle Spasms
  • Ulcers
  • Gastritis

Can Older Adults Have Too Much Caffeine?

Medical experts tend to agree that up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day is just fine for average seniors. If we’re talking coffee, that’s roughly four cups. As we mentioned earlier, caffeine is found in many other beverages and products in addition to coffee. Brewed tea, soda, energy drinks, chocolate, chocolate milk, and even decaffeinated coffee all contain various amounts of the stimulant.

If you drink coffee in the morning and then iced tea is your drink of choice during the day, you’ll definitely want to monitor your consumption. Something that’s also important to note is that some medications, including over-the-counter drugs like cold, allergy, and pain medications, contain caffeine as well.

Just be aware of what and how much you’re putting into your body. Maintaining (or lowering) the recommended caffeine intake is important to avoid unhealthy side effects and serious complications.