Caffeine and health formatted.pub
FACT SHEET: CAFFEINE AND HEALTH
NTERNATIONAL FOOD INFORMATION COUNCIL FOUNDATION
Many women, especially those of childbearing age, are concerned about con-suming too much caffeine. From reproductive effects to osteoporosis, scientists worldwide have studied the effects of caffeine on women's health. This fact
sheet reviews the latest research on caffeine and women's health, summarizing the major findings. When taken together, the collective research supports moderate consumption of caffeine (up to 300 mg/day or three cups of coffee) for women, including those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
What Is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance found in the leaves, seeds Caffeine is also added to some foods and beverages for flavor. It con-
or fruits of at least 63 plant species worldwide.
tributes to the overall flavor profile of those foods in which it is
What Foods And Beverages Contain Caffeine?
The most commonly known sources of caffeine are coffee, tea, some
Caffeine is safe.
soft drinks and chocolate. The amount of caffeine in food products
In 1958, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classified
varies depending on the serving size, the type of product and prepa-
caffeine as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS). In 1987, the FDA
ration method. With teas and coffees, the plant variety also affects
reaffirmed its position that moderate caffeine intake produced no
increased risk to health. In addition, both the American Medical As-
sociation and the American Cancer Society have statements confirm-
Coffee is the chief source of caffeine in the U.S. An eight-ounce cup of ing the safety of moderate caffeine consumption. drip-brewed coffee typically has 65-120 milligrams (mg) of caffeine;
an eight and one-third ounce energy drink contains between 50-200 Caffeine is not an addictive substance.
mg; an eight-ounce serving of brewed tea has 20-90 mg; caffeinated
Depending on the amount of caffeine ingested, it can be a mild
soft drinks have 30-60 mg per 12 ounce serving; and an ounce of
stimulant to the central nervous system. Although caffeine is some-
milk chocolate has just 1-15 mg.
times characterized as "addictive," moderate caffeine consumption is
safe and should not be classified with addictive drugs of abuse. Often,
How Much Caffeine Do We Consume?
people who say they are "addicted" to caffeine tend to use the term
Published data show the per capita consumption level of caffeine for loosely, like saying they are "addicted" to running, working or tele-the average adult is approximately 120 mg/day, or a mean intake of vision.
1.73 mg/kg body weight/day. The average child consumes much
less—between 14 and 22 mg/day.
When regular caffeine consumption is stopped abruptly, some indi-
For children and young adults, the primary sources of caffeine are
viduals may experience mild symptoms such as headache, fatigue or
tea and soft drinks, while for adults caffeine intake is mostly from
drowsiness. These effects are usually only temporary and will end in
What constitutes a normal amount of caffeine depends on the indi-
Caffeinated beverages are hydrating.
vidual. Caffeine sensitivity depends on many factors, including the
Caffeinated beverages consumed in moderation can count toward
frequency and amount of regular intake, body weight and physical
daily water intake, contributing to hydration. The Institute of Medi-
cine's (IOM) Panel on Dietary Reference Intakes for Electrolytes
Numerous studies have shown that moderate amounts of caffeine—
and Water states, "While consumption of beverages containing caf-
about 300 milligrams per day—are safe for most adults. Some indi-
feine and alcohol have been shown in some studies to have diuretic
viduals may be sensitive to caffeine and will feel effects at smaller
effects, available information indicates that this may be transient in
doses than do individuals who are less sensitive.
nature, and that such beverages can contribute to total water intake
and thus can be used in meeting recommendations for dietary intake
Caffeine can be added or naturally occurring.
of total water" (Dietary Reference Intakes for Water, Potassium,
Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance found in the leaves, seeds Sodium, Chloride, and Sulfate, 2003). Thus, the diuretic effect is or fruits of more than 60 plants. Foods and beverages derived from
more than likely compensated for by the fluid in the beverage.
coffee beans, cocoa beans, kola nuts and tea leaves are common
sources of caffeine.
INTERNATIONAL FOOD INFORMATION COUNCIL FOUNDATION
Caffeine in moderation is safe for children.
Osteoporosis is not caused or worsened by caffeine/coffee
Research has found no evidence to suggest the use of caffeine at the
levels in foods and beverages is harmful. As with all foods and bever- Osteoporosis is a disease of the bone characterized by a decrease in
ages, parents should use common sense in giving their children nor- bone density and the development of weak and brittle bones, which
mal servings of caffeinated foods and beverages.
are more prone to fracture. Osteoporosis occurs most frequently in
women. Risk factors include inadequate calcium intake, high protein
Consuming caffeine-containing foods and beverages will
intake, smoking, inadequate exercise, small body frame, low estrogen
not cause children to become hyperactive.
levels and age. In addition, Caucasian and Asian women are at higher
There is no evidence to show that caffeine is associated with hyper-
risk for osteoporosis than women of most other ethnic groups.
active behavior. In fact, most well-conducted scientific studies show
no effects of caffeine-containing foods—or any food or beverage, in
A recent study of post-menopausal women demonstrated that caf-
general—on hyperactivity or attention deficit disorder in children.
feine intake is not associated with any change in bone density.
Scientific evidence suggests that children are no more sensitive to
Several other recent, well-controlled studies have concluded that
the effects of caffeine than adults.
consuming moderate amounts of caffeine does not increase a
woman's risk of osteoporosis.
Consuming caffeine in moderate amounts during preg-
nancy is safe.
Caffeine does not change blood cholesterol.
Most physicians and researchers today agree that it's safe for preg-
There is no evidence linking caffeine to changes in blood cholesterol.
nant women to consume caffeine.
Consumption of coffee as typically prepared in the U.S. does not af-
fect blood cholesterol levels.
Daily consumption of up to 300 mg/day (approximately two to three 8 oz. cups of brewed coffee) has been shown to have no adverse ef-
Studies from Scandinavia using boiled, unfiltered coffee (such as that
fects on pregnancy. However, it is wise for pregnant women to
made using a French press or in espresso) have found an adverse
monitor their caffeine consumption and talk to their obstetrician or
effect on blood cholesterol. However, this effect has not been defini-
other physician about consuming caffeine during their pregnancy.
tively linked to caffeine. This preparation method is also less com-
Caffeine does not affect a woman's chances of getting
Caffeine does not cause chronic high blood pressure.
The weight of scientific research indicates that moderate caffeine
Caffeine does not cause chronic hypertension or any persistent in-
consumption does not affect fertility, or cause adverse health effects crease in blood pressure. Some individuals sensitive to caffeine may
in the mother or the child.
experience a slight rise in blood pressure immediately after consum-
ing caffeine, but it usually does not last more than several hours.
Studies show any rise in blood pressure is modest and less than that
Consuming caffeine in moderation is OK while breastfeed-
normally experienced when climbing stairs. However, individuals
with high blood pressure should consult their physician about caf-
Caffeine-containing foods and beverages, in moderation, can be en-
joyed while breastfeeding. Studies have shown that although caffeine
is passed to the infant through breast milk, the amount is minute and Caffeine does not cause increased risk of heart disease.
has no effect on the infant.
There have been more than 100 studies that have examined whether
a relationship exists between exposure to caffeine and blood pres-
Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and researchers of a re-
sure, cardiac arrhythmia or coronary heart disease. Most of this re-
view published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
concluded search has led to the conclusion that ingestion of moderate amounts
that moderate consumption of caffeine by nursing mothers will have of caffeine is not associated with any increase in cardiovascular dis-
no effect on the infant.
ease risk. However, individuals with high blood pressure should
consult their physician about caffeine intake
Fibrocystic Breast Disease (FBD) is not caused or wors-
ened by caffeine consumption.
Fibrocystic breast disease (FBD) is a condition characterized by mul-
tiple cysts that can be felt throughout the breast and are usually as-
sociated with pain and tenderness. Approximately 50 to 90 percent
of women experience symptoms of FBD. Both the National Cancer Institute and the American Medical Asso-
ciation's Council on Scientific Affairs have stated there is no associa-
tion between caffeine intake and FBD. In addition, research has
International Food Information Council Foundation
shown that caffeine does not cause or worsen the symptoms of fibro-
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cystic breast disease.
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