When does caffeine become harmful?

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Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and gives you an energy boost.
Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and gives you an energy boost.

Many people won't start the day without a cup of coffee.

More filter coffee

Caffeine, the stimulant found in coffee, isn't harmful to most people who consume 400mg or less each day, the US National Library of Medicine says. 

According to studies, more South Africans are switching from instant coffee to filter coffee. In 2010 there was a 17% increase in South Africans drinking pure ground coffee.

The average 250ml cup of coffee contains 95 to 200mg of caffeine, while a 350ml energy drink contains 70 to 100mg of caffeine.

When caffeine becomes harmful

If you're pregnant, breast-feeding or have conditions including anxiety, ulcers or irregular heartbeat, you probably should limit intake or avoid caffeine altogether, the agency advises.

Here's the NLM's assessment of how caffeine affects the body:

  • It stimulates the central nervous system, which can make you feel more awake and give you a boost of energy.

  • It is a diuretic, which helps your body get rid of extra salt and water by causing you to urinate more.

  • It increases the release of acid in your stomach, which can trigger an upset stomach or heartburn.

  • It may interfere with the body's absorption of calcium.

Image credit: iStock

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