Caffeine is a mild stimulant. Many people drink coffee, tea, or soda for this effect—it helps them feel more awake and alert. However, this stimulant effect can also cause jitters, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Each person's tolerance to caffeine is different. As we age, we become more sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
You may be advised to reduce your caffeine intake in certain situations. For example:
If you are pregnant or nursing—During pregnancy, you may be more sensitive to caffeine. Also, caffeine can pass through the placenta and breast milk to your baby.
If you have a specific medical problem such as high blood pressure, other risk factors for heart attack,
ulcers, talk to your doctor about how caffeine affects you in order to determine if you need to cut back.
First, you will need to know all the possible sources of caffeine in your diet. The following table should help understand the caffeine content of different beverages. While chocolate does not contain caffeine, for some people the theobromines in chocolate have similar effects. We have also listed the caffeine equivalents for some chocolate products below.
|Common Sources of Caffeine
||Average Caffeine Content (mg)
|NoDoz (maximum strength)
|Excedrin (extra strength)
|Arizona Iced Tea, black
|Dr. Pepper, regular or diet
|7-UP or Diet 7-UP
|Jolt Energy Drink
|Hershey's Special Dark
|Hershey's chocolate bar
Cut Back Gradually
Some people experience headaches or drowsiness if they all remove sources of caffeine from their diet. Decreasing over a period of time can help prevent these effects. Try the following:
- Mix half regular and half decaffeinated coffee
- Drink instant coffee, which has less caffeine than regular coffee
- Brew tea for a shorter time—a 1-minute brew contains about half of the caffeine that a 3-minute brew contains
If you find that one of the above three methods of gradual cutting back works for you, then you can begin to:
- Drink decaffeinated coffee or tea, which has almost no caffeine.
- Drink herbal tea, which naturally has no caffeine.
- Replace coffee, tea, and soda with water or juice.
If you are trying to lose weight, then do not forget that juices and sugar-containing soft drinks may have more calories than some of the caffeinated beverages you are giving up.
You may be surprised at the caffeine content of your favorite beverages or of some of the over-the-counter products in your medicine cabinet. Be sure to check labels. Many sodas and other products come in caffeine-free forms, so look for these.