Caffeine: Is Drinking Coffee Good for Me?

By Lindsey Johnson

We’ve all heard conflicting reports on whether drinking coffee is beneficial or detrimental for our health, but what’s the bottom line? It depends.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), consuming caffeine up to about 400 mg per day, the equivalent of approximately four cups of brewed coffee, is considered safe for most adults. However, caffeine is a stimulant that impacts the central nervous system and when consumed in excess, can cause rapid heart rate, irritability, insomnia, stomachache and urinary frequency. Medical News Today explains that caffeine’s half-life is around five hours, which means that approximately half of the consumed caffeine would be metabolized in that amount of time.

Caffeine in moderate amounts can help improve cognition, mental alertness and aid weight loss. However, it can have negative impacts on fertility, pregnancy and insomnia. What products contain caffeine? While coffee, tea and soda are well-known for their caffeine content, caffeine can also be found in many other foods and beverages. Energy drinks, even alcoholic ones, boost energy by providing a caffeine jolt. Even decaffeinated coffee still contains some caffeine.


What about your favorite sweet treat? Cocoa beans, used to make chocolate, contain caffeine. This means that all foods containing chocolate such as cakes, pudding, coffee creamers, pies and cookies all contain caffeine. Even more surprising, some protein bars, seeds, chips, waffles, yogurt, ice cream, beef jerky and even oatmeal sometimes contain hidden caffeine. Candies like gummy bears, jellybeans and marshmallows sometimes have small amounts of caffeine that may keep you energized.


Another hidden culprit can be certain pain relief medications. Caffeine helps reduce inflammation and according to the Cleveland Clinic, makes pain relievers up to 40% more effective. Caffeine also helps
the body absorb the medication faster, leading to quicker relief. Many pain relievers specifically targeted for headaches and PMS symptoms contain caffeine. If you experience severe headaches or PMS, a pain reliever containing caffeine may be a good choice. Word of caution: be aware of what time you take it to avoid sleep interruption.


Caffeine is also found in many skincare products, from cellulite creams to facial cosmetics. According to a 2012 study by Herman and Herman, caffeine can help prevent fat accumulation in cells. It also has antioxidant properties and increases the circulation of blood. These anti-aging properties are popular in many cosmetic products as the increased circulation helps give the appearance of a healthy glow.


For the average adult, moderate caffeine consumption is considered safe. Pregnant or nursing mothers, children and those with certain medical conditions like insomnia or high blood pressure may want to consider minimizing or eliminating caffeine to the best of their ability. Unless consumed in excess, most people will tolerate some caffeine with minimal impact. So, continue drinking coffee, but keep these things in mind.

Caffeine Chart