It seems that every coffee lover — and caffeine lover, for that matter — always has that one friend or family member who tells them that it’s dangerous (and potentially fatal) to consume lots of coffee.
But let’s take a step back for a second.
Drinking too much watercan technically kill you. Really, anything can kill you if you’re determined or creative enough, so, yes, coffee cankill you, but the amount it would take to do so is pretty obscene.
It would take 50-100 cups of java (depending on age, health, weight, and whatnot) for you to wind up six feet under. And technically it’s not the coffeethat kills you, it’s the caffeine.
Any product containing caffeine can result in the same end, like this 16-year-old South Carolina teenwho drank a large Mountain Dew, cafe latte, and an energy drink within 2 hours. Even then, it wasn’t the caffeine that technically killed him—it was the cardiac arrest the slew of beverages induced.
What’s A Safe Amount Of Caffeine To Consume?
According to a 2018 study on from the National Coffee Association, coffee is an integral part of the day for 62% of adults over the age of 18. With more and more people throwing out their old coffee pots and exchanging them for the latest and best coffee makers, grinders, and other accessories, it’s no wonder that coffee consumption is at its highest level since 2012.
According to most studies regarding coffee consumption, you’ll still maintain safe and healthy levels if you consume four cups of coffee in a relatively short period of time. That equates to roughly 500 milligrams of caffeine, which is the sweet spot for healthy adults. For teens, the amount is abridged to about 50% of that, to 250 milligrams.
The fact is, roughly 90% of adults consume caffeine in some shape or form and there aren’t really any reports of any dying from drinkingcoffee. Drinking energy drinks? Yes, not coffee. The danger with caffeine really lies in other forms, primarily tablets and powders. Even then, in 2017, Health Canada published a peer-reviewed study in Food and Chemical Toxicology that only 14 out of 26 caffeine overdoses resulted in death.
- S.None of this information applies to people with heart conditions or other health-related issues that may alter the way caffeine affects the body.
The Specifics of Caffeine Overdoses
It would take 10 grams of caffeine to kill the average human. To put this in perspective, a cup of coffee contains between 100-200 milligrams of caffeine, depending on how heavy-handed you are when dumping the grinds into your machine of choice. Getting to 10 grams seems a bit more doable with energy drinks, which on average can contain 300 milligrams of caffeine. Soda would be an epic undertaking, since the average can only boasts about 70 milligrams.
The fact of the matter is, you wouldn’t just keel over the second you hit 10 grams of caffeine. Your body has failsafes. Long before you managed to down 50 cups of coffee, you would be suffering a miserable range of side effects.
After 500 milligrams, your body would start revolting. You’d likely end up with a growing migraine, frequent urination, and slowly increasing nausea. An accelerated heart rate and muscle spasms would likely follow. Apologies for being graphic, but long before you neared overdose, you’d vomit.
Ah, yes, vomiting. The body’s natural method of purging toxic chemicals. Once you’ve started vomiting, it would be incredibly difficultto continue consuming caffeine, especially with your stomach already in such a tumultuous condition.
If you manage to keep it all inside your body, you’ll reach a point of hallucination, altered consciousness, and probably pass out.
I don’t know about you, but I can immediately tell when I’ve overdone it with the coffee. My head and stomach make damnsure I know that I’ve made an egregious error. Rectify with food and water, immediately. Despite what I mutter to myself on the reg, coffee alone does not actually sustain human life.
So how do caffeine overdoses really happen?
Unconventional Caffeine Consumption
It’s what I mentioned earlier: the tablets and the powders. Consuming these more concentrated forms of caffeine is actually more of a prevalent problem among healthypeople.
For example, it’s becoming more common for those who workout to mix caffeine powders into their pre- and post-gym smoothies. The problem is that these powders are highly concentrated—one teaspoon (yes, one teaspoon) can be the equivalent of the caffeine in 28 cups of coffee! That’s scary.
The tablets are equally concerning. It’s much easier to throw a bunch of pills in your mouth and swallow, ingesting a much-too-high dose without even realizing what’s been done until violently experiencing the side effects.
Drinking a few cups of coffee is legitimately the safest way to ingest caffeine. Thanks to the time it takes to consume and the slow presentation of side effects once you’ve had too much, there’s really no fear of accidentally overdosing on caffeine via java.
So, yes, if you have the constitution for it, you can overdose on coffee, but you’d have to have an iron will and some serious dedication to it. You’d knowwhat you’re doing, is what I’m saying.
Don’t let any of this concern you too much is ultimately what it comes down to. Unless you’re using a caffeine powder or tablets, you really have nothing to worry about. Coffee has been given the thumbs up in an innumerable number of studies and has been proven to reduce the risk of certain cancers, lower the risk of diabetes, decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and much more.