Hidden Caffeine | Caffeine Content

chocolate cake

With 80% of Americans consuming caffeine daily (the average adult gets more than 200mg) it can be difficult to avoid caffeine entirely. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) treats caffeine as a regulated substance. It is used both in medicines and foodstuffs. Labeling laws require that the amount of caffeine be listed on any food packaging sold in the United States. But how much is too much? Which foods contain harmful amounts of caffeine?

Daily intake

Because genetic makeup, age, and other factors affect each individual’s ability to metabolize caffeine, no exact amount is safe for everyone. Generally, one or two cups of coffee a day are not considered harmful. This doesn’t mean a jumbo-ultra-maximum cup. The standard cup of coffee is only 8 ounces. Tea and coffee also vary in the amount of caffeine they contain. For instance, a 16 ounce Grande from Starbucks has about 330mg; already more than the 200mg ‘safe’ amount.

Can tolerance and withdrawal occur at the 200mg level? Yes. Again it depends on the person and their body’s ability to remove the drug. At 600mg, even healthy people with the best genetics will suffer from too much caffeine.

Average amounts of caffeine by product type

The FDA publishes the caffeine levels in common products. Some of the more popular items are:

  • Coffee, brewed – 115 to 175mg per 8oz
  • Coffee, instant – 65 to 100mg per 8oz
  • Coffee, espresso – 100mg per 2 oz
  • Tea, brewed – 40 to 60mg per 8oz
  • Tea, iced - 47mg per 8oz
  • Jolt, or enhanced colas – 100mg per 12 oz
  • Red Bull – 80mg per 8 oz
  • Dr. Pepper – 61mg per 12 oz
  • Coca-Cola – 64mg per 12 oz
  • Pepsi – 43mg per 12 oz
  • Mountain Dew – 55mg per 12 oz
  • Barq’s Root Beer – 23mg per 12 oz
  • Hot Cocoa – 1 to 8mg per 5 oz
  • Starbucks Coffee Ice Cream – 40 to 60mg per cup
  • Dannon’s Coffee Yogurt – 45mg per 8 oz
  • Bittersweet Chocolate – 5 to 35mg per oz
  • Chocolate Ice Cream – 2 to 5mg per 50grams
  • Chocolate Brownie – 8mg per 1.25 oz
  • Milk Chocolate – 1 to 15mg per oz
  • 100 Grand Candy Bar – 11.2mg per bar (43g)

Over The Counter

Caffeine is also found in many over the counter medications. The only way to really track this is to read labels. Headache preparations often have caffeine, as well as products like NoDoze. Even supplements sold for weight loss, water retention, and so-called “energy boosters” will often contain large amounts of caffeine.

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