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Decreasing Your Caffeine Intake

Lowering your caffeine intake can help with some health problems. If your doctor tells you that cutting back might help you, here are some steps that can make it easier to do.

Here's Why:

Caffeine is a mild stimulant. Many people drink coffee, tea, or soda because it helps them feel more awake and alert. However, this stimulant effect can also cause jitters, anxiety, and trouble sleeping. Caffeine affects each person differently. As we age, caffeine may affect us more.

Your doctor may tell you to cut down on caffeine in some situations. For example:

  • If you are pregnant or nursing—Caffeine may affect you more during pregnancy. Also, it can pass through the placenta and breast milk to your baby.
  • If you have a health problem like high blood pressure or other risk factors for heart attack, gastritis, or ulcers, talk to your doctor about how caffeine affects you. You may need to cut back.

Here's How:

First, you will need to know where the caffeine in your diet comes from. The table below should help you figure out how much caffeine is in different drinks. While there is no caffeine in chocolate, other chemicals in chocolate can have similar effects. We have listed the caffeine equivalents for some chocolate products below.

Common Sources of Caffeine Serving Size Average Caffeine Content (mg)
Over-the-Counter Drugs
NoDoz (maximum strength) 1 tablet 200
Excedrin Migraine 2 tablets 130
Coffee
Coffee, brewed 16 ounces 133
Espresso coffee 2 ounces 150
Coffee, instant 8 ounces 148
Decaffeinated 12 ounces 2-10
Tea
Arizona Iced Tea, black 16 ounces 30
Black tea 8 ounces 30-80
Soft Drinks
Mountain Dew 12 ounces 54
Dr. Pepper, regular or diet 12 ounces 41
Colas 12 ounces 35
7-UP or Diet 7-UP 12 ounces 0
Energy Drinks
Redline Energy Drink 23.5 ounces 316
5-hour Energy 1.9 ounces 208
Monster Energy 16 ounces 160
Red Bull 8.4 ounces 80
Chocolate Products
Hershey's Special Dark 1.5 ounce 20
Hershey's chocolate bar 1.6 ounces 9
Hot cocoa 1 tbs. 8

Cut Back Gradually

Some people have headaches or feel sleepy if they cut caffeine from their diet all at once. Cutting back slowly can help avoid this. Try these tips:

  • Mix half regular and half decaf 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

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.

Read Labels

You may be surprised how much caffeine is in your favorite drinks or in some of the over-the-counter medicines you take. 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

Health Canada
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

REFERENCES:

Caffeine. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Accessed November 15, 2020.

Caffeine and heart disease. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Caffeine-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_305888_Article.jsp. Accessed November 15, 2020.

Caffeine content of food & drugs. Center for Science in the Public Interest website. Available at: http://www.cspinet.org/new/cafchart.htm. Accessed November 15, 2020.

Cornelis MC, El-Sohemy A, Kabagambe EK, Campos H. Coffee, CYP1A2 genotype, and risk of myocardial infarction. JAMA. 2006;295(10):1135-1141.

ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Accessed November 15, 2020.

Last reviewed November 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board  Last Updated: 11/29/2020