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Decreasing Your Caffeine Intake

There are some conditions that may be improved if you decrease your caffeine intake. If your doctor suggests that you cut down on caffeine, here are some steps to help you do so.

Here's Why:    TOP

Caffeine is a mild stimulant. Many people drink coffee, tea, or soda for this effect—it helps them feel more awake and alert. However, this stimulant effect can also cause jitters, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping. Each person's tolerance to caffeine is different. As we age, we become more sensitive to the effects of caffeine.

You may be advised to reduce your caffeine intake in certain situations. For example:

  • If you are pregnant or nursing—During pregnancy, you may be more sensitive to caffeine. Also, caffeine can pass through the placenta and breast milk to your baby.
  • If you have a specific medical problem such as high blood pressure or other risk factors for heart attack, gastritis, or ulcers, talk to your doctor about how caffeine affects you in order to determine if you need to cut back.

Here's How:    TOP

First, you will need to know all the possible sources of caffeine in your diet. The following table should help understand the caffeine content of different beverages. While chocolate does not contain caffeine, for some people the theobromines in chocolate have similar effects. We have also listed the caffeine equivalents for some chocolate products below.

Common Sources of CaffeineServing SizeAverage Caffeine Content (mg)
Over-the-Counter Drugs
NoDoz (maximum strength)1 tablet200
Excedrin Migraine2 tablets130
Coffee
Coffee, brewed16 ounces133
Espresso coffee2 ounces150
Coffee, instant8 ounces148
Decaffeinated12 ounces2-10
Tea
Arizona Iced Tea, black16 ounces30
Black tea8 ounces30-80
Soft Drinks
Mountain Dew12 ounces54
Dr. Pepper, regular or diet12 ounces41
Colas12 ounces35
7-UP or Diet 7-UP12 ounces0
Energy Drinks
Redline Energy Drink23.5 ounces316
5-hour Energy1.9 ounces208
Monster Energy16 ounces160
Red Bull8.4 ounces80
Chocolate Products
Hershey's Special Dark 1.5 ounce20
Hershey's chocolate bar1.6 ounces9
Hot cocoa1 tbs. 8

Cut Back Gradually

Some people experience headaches or drowsiness if they remove all sources of caffeine from their diet. Decreasing over a period of time can help prevent these effects. Try the following:

  • Mix half regular and half decaffeinated coffee
  • Drink instant coffee, which has less caffeine than regular coffee
  • Brew tea for a shorter time—a 1-minute brew contains about half of the caffeine that a 3-minute brew contains

If you find that one of the above three methods of gradual cutting back works for you, then you can begin to:

  • Drink decaffeinated coffee or tea, which has almost no caffeine.
  • Drink herbal tea, which naturally has no caffeine.
  • Replace coffee, tea, and soda with water or juice.

If you are trying to lose weight, do not forget that juices and sugar-containing soft drinks may have more calories than some of the caffeinated beverages you are giving up.

Read Labels

You may be surprised at the caffeine content of your favorite beverages or of some of the over-the-counter products in your medicine cabinet. Be sure to check labels. Many sodas and other products come in caffeine-free forms, so look for these.

RESOURCES:

American Heart Association
http://www.heart.org
International Food Information Council
http://www.foodinsight.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Dietitians of Canada
http://www.dietitians.ca

References:

Caffeine. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated January 25, 2016. Accessed January 26, 2016.
Caffeine and heart disease. American Heart Association website. Available at:
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Updated August 17, 2015. Accessed January 26, 2016.
Caffeine content of food & drugs. Center for Science in the Public Interest website. Available at:
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Updated November 2014. Accessed January 26, 2016.
Cornelis MC, El-Sohemy A, Kabagambe EK, Campos H. Coffee, CYP1A2 genotype, and risk of myocardial infarction. JAMA. 2006;295(10):1135-1141.
Lopez-Garcia E, van Dam RM, Willett WC, et al. Coffee consumption and coronary heart disease in men and women: a prospective cohort study. Circulation. 2006;113(17):2045-2053.
Neurodegenerative disorders: coffee and age-related cognitive decline. Coffee & Health website. Available at:
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Accessed January 26, 2016.
ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated December 14, 2015. Accessed January 26, 2016.
Last reviewed January 2016 by Michael Woods, MD
Last Updated: 3/13/2014

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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