Banner Health Services  

Am I drinking too much coffee?


Melissa Paton MS,RD is a registered dietitian at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa, Ariz..

Question: I really like my coffee in the morning. But how do I know if I am drinking too much coffee?

Answer: It’s what gets you out of bed in the morning and how you keep your energy levels up. Coffee, one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world, has some people wondering, is there such as thing as too much?

Yes, but most people are probably safe.

Coffee, that dark, fragrant elixir that many American’s wake up to every morning, has been sought out and fought over throughout history. If you rely on coffee for your daily fix, you can attest to the brews’ magnetic allure and addictive power.

The buzz in regular coffee comes from caffeine, a natural stimulant which can be addictive. If you miss your morning cup, do you get shaky and irritable? You may have a dependence on caffeine. To avoid the unpleasant side effects of caffeine withdrawal, be sure to slowly phase coffee and other caffeine-containing substances out of your diet, not all at once!

The average cup of coffee has 95 mg caffeine. Like espresso? Once shot (usually an ounce) has only 64 mg of caffeine.  Everyone has their own personal caffeine limit, but generally sticking to no more than 300 mg a day (3 cups of coffee) is recommended. If 3 cups is your starting point, don’t worry. According to the National Institutes of Health, you need to drink at least 10 cups of coffee to have an “excessive” intake of caffeine.

Signs you might drinking too much coffee are restlessness, irritability, confusion, dizziness, and a rapid heart rate. Caffeine toxicity is a possibility, but most often it is caused by other sources of caffeine, i.e. diet pills or energy supplements.

For those worried about caffeine and heart health, coffee is not considered a significant contributor to hypertension. In fact, coffee is a rich source of antioxidants which have been shown to be protective against disease. Ultimately your doctor will let you know if you should cut out the caffeine, but overall, research has linked coffee consumption to lower risk of type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, heart disease and even dental cavities. Coffee should be avoid by pregnant women and those with peptic ulcers.

The final word: Keep your intake moderate to enjoy the buzz and potential health benefits in each cup!

Reviewed August 2010



Page Last Modified: 08/19/2010
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