Caffeine – How Much is Too Much?

Caffeine affects everyone differently, so how do you know how much is too much? Here’s a look at some of the recommendations for caffeine consumption, consumption trends across different age groups, and caffeine content comparisons across popular caffeinated beverages.

Caffeine Limits

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children and teens under the age of 18 should consume no more than 100 milligrams of caffeine total, from all sources, per day. This includes caffeine from soda, tea, caffeinated food or candy, coffee, etc.

Once they turn 18, healthy adults can enjoy up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. This limit comes from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which reviewed multiple scientific studies on caffeine safety before determining this limit. This 400 milligram limit is the magic threshold because it is above this amount that the side effects of caffeine start to outweigh the many benefits of consuming caffeine. In other words, if you consume more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, Science with a capital S cannot guarantee your safety. Stay under that limit and you should be fine, unless one of the following three situations is true:

  1. You are sensitive to caffeine.
    If you are sensitive to caffeine, your body will be a better indication of how much caffeine is too much for you personally
  2. You are pregnant.
    Pregnant women can consume up to 200 milligrams of caffeine per day.
  3. You consume all 400 milligrams at once.
    The EFSA specifically stated that adults should consume no more than 200 milligrams of caffeine at a time. If a drink has more than 200 milligrams of caffeine per container, make sure the caffeine is extended release, or that you nurse that drink to make it last throughout the day.

Caffeine Comparison

Now that we know how much caffeine we can have per day and per sitting, let’s look at the caffeine content for popular caffeinated drinks.

*AvitaeXR – 125mg instant caffeine and 125mg extended release caffeine

Red Bull, Monster Energy and Rockstar Energy are the top three selling brands in the US. Their caffeine contents vary dramatically from each other, with Red Bull being the least caffeinated of the three. The caffeine content in Avitae products also varies, with the strongest Avitae product slightly stronger than a Rockstar Energy (250 mg versus 240 mg). These two products are both above the 200 mg limit per sitting, but the AvitaeXR product is extended release, meaning 125 mg caffeine are consumed immediately and 125 mg caffeine are absorbed much later inside the digestive system.

How well do we obey the caffeine limits?

The following chart, taken by permission from Caffeine Informer, shows how well people in different age groups follow the proposed caffeine limits.

These numbers come from a massive study published in 2014 involving over 40,000 people and caffeine content measured from tea, sodas, coffee, energy drinks, sports drinks, caffeinated fruit juice drinks, caffeinated flavored waters, chocolate drinks (with naturally occurring caffeine) and energy shots. All age groups consume under the 400 mg caffeine per day limit, and even teens consume less caffeine than the American Academy of Pediatrics’ 100 mg limit.