After some European countries raised concerns about the health effects of caffeine on the heart and central nervous system, the European Food Safety Agency carried out a scientific study into caffeine safety.
The result is the first EFSA guidelines on caffeine safety, which set the recommended limit at 400 milligrams per day. The average mug of instant coffee contains around 100 milligrams of caffeine so coffee lovers are advised to stick to four cups a day or less. If you regularly hit this limit before your lunch break it may be time to switch to decaf…
The EFSA report outlined the potential risks of too much caffeine including anxiety, sleeplessness, panic attacks, high blood pressure and irregular heartbeat. In extreme cases excessive amounts of caffeine may lead to heart failure.
The risks are even higher for pregnant women, who are advised to drink no more than two cups of coffee a day. The report referred to other studies which showed links between high caffeine intake during pregnancy and low birth weight. The NHS also warns about the risks of too much caffeine during pregnancy, stating that it could lead to miscarriage.
Of course caffeine comes in many forms, not just coffee. Excessive tea drinkers shouldn’t be getting too smug. To work out your average daily caffeine consumption use the following as a guide:
Cup of filter coffee — 90 milligrams
Standard energy drink — 80 milligrams
Espresso — 80 milligrams
Cup of tea — 50 milligrams
Can of cola — 40 milligrams
Bar of dark chocolate — 25 milligrams
Bar of milk chocolate — 10 milligrams