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Is Caffeine a Drug?

10 Questions to Know the Truth about Caffeine Side Effects!

Are you one of those people who are dependent on your morning coffee or tea for feeling awake and alert? Is coffee integral to your ability to concentrate? How many cups of coffee or caffeinated drinks do you rely upon to get through your day? How much caffeine do these caffeinated drinks have? And is this amount important? Has any recognized body put an upper limit on daily caffeine intake? 

If such questions around caffeine have also crowded your mind for the longest time, then you have landed on the right page. 

Within a few minutes, you will have the answers to all the above-stated questions about caffeine, its side effects, and so much more. So read on to learn more!

1. What is Caffeine? 

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant belonging to the methylxanthine class. It’s associated with higher alertness, better metabolism, and improved overall mood. It’s commonly found in coffee, tea, caffeinated pre-workout supplements, and other drinks. 

Caffeine works by preventing the binding of adenosine to the adenosine A₁ receptor, which promotes the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. 

2. How much Caffeine should you have a Day?

As per FDA, the daily dose of caffeine for a healthy adult is 400 milligrams. However, this value may change for people with different levels of caffeine sensitivity or other health concerns. In case of a prior medical condition, you’re suggested to speak to your healthcare provider about whether or not you need to limit your daily caffeine intake. 

While FDA hasn’t specified any limit for caffeine consumption for kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children do not consume caffeine or any other stimulants. 

3. How much Caffeine should I Drink if I'm Sensitive to Caffeine?

Caffeine sensitivity is an adverse response to caffeine intake. Listed as one of the important effects of caffeine, the sensitivity degree can vary from person to person. 

-Normal Sensitivity

People with normal sensitivity are generally tolerant of 400mg of caffeine daily without experiencing any nasty side effects. 


Hyposensitivity is genetically developed. In this case, you are extremely tolerant of caffeine, no matter how high the doses are. 


People suffering from hypersensitivity cannot consume even the smallest amount of caffeine without experiencing adverse effects. Even the smallest amount of caffeine in coffee or caffeine in tea can land them in trouble. Such people should look for the intensity of their caffeine sensitivity and should either eliminate caffeine consumption completely or reduce it to 30-50mg/day. 

4. What are the Benefits of Caffeine?

Caffeine, when consumed within limits, has been linked to certain benefits. While some may have research backing, others aren’t proven. Here are some perks you may derive from consuming caffeine in moderation-

  1. Alertness
  2. Cognitive Function 
  3. Athletic Performance
  4. Memory
  5. Weight Loss

Some studies also associate caffeine consumption with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, skin cancer, kidney stones, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. However, these aren’t conclusive. 

5. What are the Side Effects of Caffeine?

Caffeine can lead to many short-to-long-term side effects, especially when consumed more than the suggested limit in a concentrated form. Mostly, such caffeine effects are observed in coffee addicts or those who consume high caffeine pre-workout. The common side effects are-

  1. Jitters
  2. Insomnia
  3. Addiction
  4. Caffeine Withdrawal
  5. Heart Palpitations
  6. High Blood Pressure
  7. Anxiety
  8. Restlessness
  9. Headache
  10. Heart Attack
  11. Frequent Urination 

6. Does Caffeine from Different Sources affect you Differently?

The effect of caffeine on the body depends on how concentrated or diluted it is. For instance, the effect is minimal if you consume caffeine in tea or coffee, especially diluted coffee such as a latte. In fact, you might not experience any effect at all. 

On the contrary, if you consume an espresso, which is a rather concentrated version of coffee, effects such as alertness, focus, and better performance are profound. 

Another case of caffeine in the most concentrated form is high caffeine pre-workout supplements. Found in powdered form, the usual dosage of caffeine in a pre-workout drink is anywhere between 300-500mg caffeine/scoop. Since the nature of caffeine is both powdered and concentrated in the case of pre-workouts, the absorption and consequent effects of caffeine are far more intense.

People who regularly consume 400mg caffeine pre-workout or 500mg caffeine pre-workout are likely to experience short to long-term effects such as addiction, insomnia, high blood pressure, jitters, cardiovascular issues (heart palpitations, heart failure), etc. In addition, symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are also quite prominent if the dosage is so high.

7. How much Coffee is too much Coffee?

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it’s safe for most people to consume three to five cups of coffee per day. The caffeine in these cups of coffee should be equivalent to not more than 400mg. Exceeding this limit can lead to caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms. 

8. Is Caffeine a Drug? 

Currently, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) does not recognize caffeine addiction as a Substance Use Disorder (SUD). However, similarities between caffeine addiction and dependency on other drugs are certainly observed. This is the primary reason why people are concerned about consuming too much caffeine. 

9. Is Caffeine Safe During Pregnancy? 

Pregnant women are generally suggested to limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 mg of caffeine/per day. This is nearly equivalent to 2 cups of coffee. 

According to the researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the National Institutes of Health, low and moderate caffeinated beverage intake early in the second trimester within current guidelines of less than 200 mg per day was associated with a lower risk for GDM, lower glucose levels at GDM screening, and more favorable cardiometabolic profile compared with no consumption.

Caffeine was not associated with gestational hypertension or preeclampsia. However, the effects of caffeine on maternal health remain unclear, which is why consulting a healthcare professional before caffeine consumption is mandatory. 

10. Is the Daily Intake of Caffeine Good or Bad for your Health?

Drinking caffeine in form of tea or coffee is generally safe for everyday consumption. However, do not exceed the 400mg daily limit. They may also be responsible for some caffeine benefits including better alertness and cognitive performance. 

However, daily intake of caffeine in concentrated form such as in a pre-workout drink is not safe, especially when it has high caffeine content (300mg-500mg caffeine/scoop). The likelihood of exceeding the recommended daily value is higher with such high doses of caffeine. Plus, the possibility of addiction and other health risks increases and can contribute to bad health. 

Final Word

Caffeine consumers often tend to overlook the concept of 'Everything in moderation.' However, for an addictive, and in some cases harmful stimulant like caffeine, striking a balance is important. It's very important to monitor your daily caffeine intake and not let it go beyond the recommended 400mg.

Not only this, it's vital to check what form of caffeine you consume, concentrated or diluted, powdered or watered down. A clear understanding of how much and in what form will help you dodge all problematic side effects.

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