Caffeine is a drug (or chemical) found in plants. It can be harmful for both humans and animals if a large amount is consumed. If a person ate 10-13 grams of caffeine quickly, between 80-100 cups of coffee, it would kill them.
Where caffeine is from
Caffeine is the main drug that is in coffee. Coffee comes from a tree. The seeds of the tree are roasted to make coffee.
Caffeine comes from other plants as well. It is in guarana, yerba maté, cacao, and some plants used to make tea. The plants use caffeine as a pesticide. This is a chemical that kills insects if they eat the plant. It is the way the plant protects itself.
What caffeine is
What caffeine is used for
The biggest use of caffeine is as a stimulant. People drink coffee and other drinks with caffeine to stay awake.
Doctors sometimes use caffeine as a medicine. It is used for headaches (head pain). It is sometimes used to help premature (born very early) babies to breathe. The short-term risk of this treatment seems to be that the babies treated gain less weight than usual.
In the beginning caffeine was found to relieve hunger, so it was used for weight loss. That did not last because people were using too much. Caffeine can be a very dangerous drug when not used in the right way.
Caffeine also has medicinal properties. It is used in many over the counter medicines, such as Excedrin, Midol and Anacin. When combined with other analgesics, caffeine can help to alleviate headaches and cramps.
Problems with caffeine
The largest problem with caffeine is addiction. This is when people get bad symptoms when they do not have the drug. When people have withdrawal (feel bad because they do not have the drug) they drink more. This makes them feel better. But if they cannot get more, they are likely to feel some of the symptoms listed below:
Caffeine can also hurt people if they drink a lot at once. If someone takes too much of a drug at once it is called an overdose. Caffeine overdose is a medical diagnosis. It is called:Caffeine-Induced Organic Mental Disorder or Caffeine Intoxication. People with this can have these symptoms:
- Very bad feelings like:
- Muscle movements that cannot be stopped
- Very fast heart rate
- Abnormal heart rhythms (even heart stopping)
- Very high blood pressure
- Confusion (not knowing who the person is or where he/she is)
How much caffeine is safe
250–300 mg of caffeine a day is a moderate amount. That is as much caffeine that is in three cups of coffee (8oz each cup). More than 750–1000 mg a day is a significant amount, but is very unlikely to kill someone. The Lethal Dose 50 of caffeine is 192 mg per kilogram, in rats. In humans, it is between 150 and 200 mg per kilogram (70-90 per pound.)
Caffeine is in many drinks and foods. This is approximate amounts of caffeine in some food and drink:
- Brewed coffee - 40 to 220 mg in a cup
- Instant coffee - 30 to 120 mg in a cup
- Decaffeinated coffee (with most caffeine taken out) - 3 to 5 mg in a cup
- Tea - 20 to 110 mg in a cup
- Soda drinks with caffeine - 36 to 90 mg in 12 ounces. Some people think that soft drinks which are light in color do not contain caffeine. This is not always true.
- Milk chocolate - 3 to 6 mg in an ounce
- Bittersweet chocolate - 25 mg in an ounce
One ounce – abbreviated oz - is 30ml.
A 'cup' is 8 oz (240ml.)
Different ways to get 200mg of caffeine
|In general, each of the following contains approximately 200 milligrams of caffeine:
A fluid ounce is between 28 and 30 mililitres.
a. There may also be large amounts of other chemicals, similar to caffeine in Chocolate and other products of cacao. There is theobromine in cacao, for example. These substances can have effects similar to those of caffeine.
b. Most tea drunk in North America is not very strong. The figures are for this kind of tea. The tea drunk in most other places of the world is stronger; for these kinds of tea, the figures are probably too small.
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Caffeine Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.