By ASHLEY WELFORD-COSTELLOE
It’s the first thing you do every morning before going off to class or work. You stop off at Tim Hortons to grab that cup of coffee or cappuccino or head to the local convenience store and pick up a 12-ounce can of some kind of energy drink loaded with caffeine.
You’re probably aware of the benefits of caffeine. Moderate amounts can temporarily enhance mental alertness and improve concentration. It also increases the flow of urine and production of digestive acids, and relaxes smooth muscles such as those that control the blood vessels. Caffeine can also improve athletic performance by temporarily increasing muscle strength and endurance. The caffeine in two cups of strong coffee increases the body’s ability to burn fat for fuel.
But how much is too much? It’s not uncommon for people to have more than one caffeinated beverage a day. According to Health Canada, the recommended caffeine intake for healthy adults is no more than 400 milligrams per day. That’s approximately three cups of coffee.
However, too much caffeine can lead to headaches, irritability and insomnia and lowers the body’s absorption of calcium by increasing the amount lost in urine.
It is recommended heavy coffee drinkers should either consume more milk, low-fat yogurt and other high-calcium foods or take calcium supplements.
When taken in excessive amounts, caffeine can also produce tremors, heart palpitations and increased anxiety.
How can you limit your caffeine intake? On the Tim Hortons home page is a nutrition guide that lists all their products and the amounts of caffeine found within. For example, a large coffee contains 140 milligrams, a large tea contains 70 milligrams and a large ice cappuccino contains 150 milligrams.
The best way to limit the amount of caffeine is to reduce the size of your coffee. Go for decaffeinated coffee or a beverage with very low amounts of caffeine. A large decaf coffee only has nine milligrams of caffeine. Chocolate milk has four milligrams. Try to avoid high-caffeine energy drinks, which contain anywhere from 160 mg to 400 mg.
If you must have an energy drink, consume no more than one 12-ounce can.