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Question: What is a healthy amount of caffeine to consume in a day?
- Pam, MD

Christine Palumbo, RD:
Most health authorities say 200-300 milligrams, the amount found in two or three 8 ounce cups of home-brewed drip coffee, can be enjoyed without harm. Caffeine is naturally found in coffee, espresso, lattés, and cappuccino, and to a lesser extent in tea, chocolate, root beer, hot cocoa and cola drinks. It can also be found in energy drinks; coffee-flavored yogurt, ice cream, and frozen yogurt, and over-the-counter weight loss supplements and certain medicinal herbs. Select soft drinks, such as Mountain Dew also contain caffeine. Coffee house blends tends to be higher in caffeine than the kind you brew at home. (Keep in mind that at one well-known coffee chain a “tall” is 12 ounces, “grande” is 16 and “venti” is 20 ounces.)

If your caffeine intake prevents you from falling asleep, or produces headache, nausea, depression or “the jitters,” it may be time to cut back a bit. As people hit their forties or fifties, they frequently become caffeine sensitive for the first time. They may wish to switch to decaf after lunchtime, or even for the entire day.

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