Where Caffeine Hides and Why it Matters
You feel restless, jittery, nervous, maybe even a little nauseous and dizzy. If you’re blaming a high-stakes meeting or a Type-A personality for your agitation, you might want to take a look at what’s in front of you. If you have a cup full of coffee or tea, a piece of chocolate candy, or even a breakfast bar, you may have taken in significantly more caffeine than you realized!
That extra cup of coffee seems like a harmless pick-me-up after an early morning, but did you know you may be surpassing the amount of caffeine recommended by doctors without even meaning to?
Caffeine is a stimulant, and while our morning cup of coffee can help get us going, caffeine can also hide in places you may not suspect. The safe daily dose of caffeine is 400 milligrams, so let’s take a look at places caffeine hides, so you can identify what may be secretly upping your intake!
Surprising sources of caffeine:
- Decaf coffee: A regular cup of coffee has about 100 milligrams of caffeine, but even decaf coffee can have trace amounts of caffeine, up to 20 milligrams in some cups.
- Chocolate: Candy bars, hot chocolate, energy bars and granola bars can all contain extra caffeine. Since cocoa naturally has caffeine in it, it’s not listed as a separate ingredient on food labels. And not all cocoa is created equal in terms of caffeine. Dark chocolate can pack as much as 30 milligrams of caffeine, about the same amount as a soft drink.
- Pain relievers: Caffeine is a key ingredient in many over-the-counter pain relievers. While taking a couple of Excedrin may ease your headache, it can also bring on the jitters and increase your heart rate. Two tablets can have as much as 130 milligrams of caffeine, the same as a Frappuccino with espresso.
- Breath fresheners: Trying to get rid of your coffee breath can also up your caffeine intake. Some gums and breath mints contain caffeine, some with enough to equal a cup of coffee.
While these products reveal hidden doses of caffeine, caffeine can also masquerade as different ingredients in food and drink. Be on the lookout for cocoa, kola nut, yerba mate, guarana, green, black, white or oolong tea, kombucha and yaupon.
The caffeine in these ingredients, coupled with a cup of coffee or a soft drink, may lead to that uncomfortable, jittery state and put you well on your way to a mid-afternoon crash.
Do you keep track of your caffeine intake each day? Have you found caffeine hiding anywhere unexpected?