Creating the Extraordinary Student Experience

How much caffeine is too much?

Posted: August 26, 2014

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  • 400 mg limit per day is safe 400 mg limit per day is safe

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When I heard on the news that an 18 year old had died from a caffeine overdose, the image that immediately came to mind was a stack of empty energy drinks.  That, however, is not what happened.  The high school senior had consumed a teaspoon or more of powered caffeine, 16 times the recommended dose.

The Mayo Clinic reports 400 milligrams of caffeine a day as a safe amount for healthy adults.  Adolescents should consume no more than 100 mg.

To put this into perspective, check out these numbers from Consumer Reports:

5-hour Energy Extra Strength

242 milligrams

Rockstar Energy Shot

229 milligrams

NOS High Performance Energy Drink

224 milligrams

Monster X-presso

221 milligrams

Full Throttle

210 milligrams

8 oz cup of StarBucks coffee

165 milligrams

Monster Energy

92 milligrams

Red Bull Energy Drink

83 milligrams

Standard cup of coffee

100 milligrams


Basically these are saying that if you consume two or more of the high end energy drinks you are way over the recommended safe amount and are putting yourself at risk.  The same for four or more cups of regular coffee.

According to WebMD caffeine works by stimulating the central nervous system (CNS), heart, muscles, and the centers that control blood pressure.  If you take too much, blood vessels can constrict, decreasing blood flow to the heart.  This can result in the following symptoms:

  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Stomach upset
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Muscle tremors

A large dose of caffeine can result in heart attacks and seizures.  That’s what happened to the high school senior.  His autopsy revealed he had died of seizures and cardiac arrhythmia, or an abnormal heartbeat, brought on by a caffeine overdose.

So this week, as you reach for that Monster or cup of joe, take a moment to consider how much caffeine you’ve consumed.  Perhaps it’s time for decaf….


Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Reviewed by Mary Lynn Kiacz, MD


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