Caffeine is a mild stimulant. It also tends to increase the flow of urine — that is, it is a diuretic. Caffeine comes from the leaves, seeds, and fruits of many plants such as tea leaves, kola nuts, coffee beans, and cocoa beans.

Caffeine can be found in coffee, cocoa, tea, chocolate products, and some soft drinks. It is often added to many over-the-counter medicines such as pain relievers and cold medicines.

How does caffeine affect the body?

Caffeine quickly passes into the central nervous system and eventually passes out of the body in the urine. Normally, half of the amount of caffeine consumed leaves the body within 5 to 7 hours.

The effects of caffeine range from a mild increase in alertness to anxiety, tension, and irritability. There is no proof that caffeine improves creativity or work performance or that it increases energy levels. In fact, many researchers believe that too much caffeine interferes with work performance.

What is caffeine sensitivity?

Some people have unwanted, or negative, side effects when they have a certain amount of caffeine. This is called “caffeine sensitivity.” Negative side effects include increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, restlessness, anxiety, depression, tremors, and disturbed sleeping patterns.

Is caffeine safe in small amounts?

Modest amounts of caffeine have not been associated with any health risks. You can safely consume about 250 mg of caffeine each day. This is equal to three 8-ounce cups of coffee, two 8-ounce chocolate bars, or about 5 cups of tea.

Who should avoid caffeine?

  • Infants and children
    Infants should not be given drinks that contain caffeine. Children may be more likely to have caffeine sensitivity because of their smaller body size. Limit the amount of caffeine in your child’s diet. If your child has too many caffeinated drinks, he or she may be missing out on other more nutritional drinks, like milk or juice.

  • Pregnant women and nursing mothers
    Most doctors either recommend that pregnant women not use caffeine or limit its usage. Nursing mothers also should not have too much caffeine. It could interfere with the baby’s sleep since it crosses into the mother’s milk.

  • People with heart problems
    Caffeine can cause irregular heartbeats in some people. Therefore, many doctors recommend eliminating or restricting caffeine for patients with heart problems, high blood pressure, or a history of irregular heartbeats.

Cut Back Slowly on Caffeine

People who consume large amounts of caffeine on a regular basis may get mild headaches and feel tired if they stop having caffeine all at once. If you want to cut down on the caffeine in your diet, try cutting back slowly to reduce the side effects.

Have a glass of water in between each cup of coffee or soda. Mix a half of a cup of decaf with a half of a cup of regular coffee. Gradually increase the amount of decaf and decrease the regular until you are only drinking decaf.

Many people think they need caffeine to wake up in the morning. If you get a good night’s sleep, you’ll feel rested when you get up, and you’ll be able to skip the caffeine.

Caffeine Chart


Caffeine Content

Drip Method (5-ounce cup) 110-150 mg
Percolated (5-ounce cup) 64-124 mg
Instant (5-ounce cup) 40-108 mg
Starbucks Vanilla Latte (Grande - 16 oz.) 320 mg
Starbucks Frappuccino Blended Coffee (9.5 oz.) 115 mg
Espresso (generic 1 oz.) 30-90 mg
Starbucks Espresso (Decaffeinated 1 oz.) 4 mg

1 minute brew (5-ounce cup) 9-33 mg
2 minute brew (5-ounce cup) 20-46 mg
Instant (5-ounce cup) 40-108 mg
Tazo Chai Tea Latte (Grande-16 oz.) 100 mg
Snapple, Lemon (Regular/Diet—16 oz.) 42 mg
Arizona Iced Tea, Black (16 oz.) 32 mg
Nestea (12 oz.) 26 mg
Snapple, Unsweetened (16 oz.) 18 mg
Arizona Iced Tea, Green (16 oz.) 15 mg

6-ounce cup of hot cocoa 2-8 mg
8-ounce cup of chocolate milk 2-7 mg
1-ounce of milk chocolate 1-15 mg
Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Bar (1.45 oz.) 31 mg
Hershey's Chocolate Bar (1.55 oz.) 9 mg
Hershey's Kisses (9 kisses) 9 mg

Energy Drinks
Monster Energy (16 oz.) 160 mg
SoBe No Fear (8 oz.) 83 mg
Red Bull (Regular/Sugar Free - 8.3 oz.) 80 mg
Rockstar Energy Drink (8 oz.) 80 mg
Amp (8.4 oz.) 74 mg
5 Hour Energy (1.93 oz.) 60-100 mg

Soft Drinks (12 Ounce)
Mountain Dew 54 mg
Coca Cola/Diet Coke 45.6 mg
Generic colas 37 mg
Dr. Pepper 39.6 mg
Pepsi Cola 38.4 mg
Diet Pepsi 36 mg
Surge 51 mg
Mellow Yellow 52.8 mg

Pain Relievers
Anacin 32 mg
Excedrin 65 mg
Midol (for cramps) 32 mg

Weight-Control Aids
Dexatrim 200 mg
Dietac 200 mg

Other Medications
NoDoz (Maximum Strength - 1 tablet) 200 mg

UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences | Supplemental content provided by Healthwise, Incorporated. To learn more, visit

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

Pittsburgh, PA, USA |