Caffeine is a stimulant that untold millions, if not billions, of people across the globe insist they cannot go without. Whether it’s in a morning cup of coffee or a midday energy drink, caffeine serves as a vital kickstart for individuals whose energy levels could use a boost.
Caffeine is often painted in a negative light, but such characterizations are misleading. The Mayo Clinic notes that up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. Coffee drinkers know that certain cups of coffee are stronger than others, but the U.S. National Library of Medicine indicates that a typical eight-ounce cup of coffee contains between 95 and 200 mg of caffeine, while a 12-ounce soda typically includes between 35 and 45 mg of caffeine.
Coffee and soda are widely recognized sources of caffeine, making it a lot easier for individuals who consume these popular beverages to track and control their caffeine consumption. In addition to coffee and soda, various other foods and beverages contain caffeine, some of which may surprise consumers. Manufacturers are not required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to cite caffeine content on nutrition labels, a controversial subject that various health advocates argue fails to protect consumers.
Without new rules that mandate manufacturers to cite caffeine content on nutrition labels, consumers are on their own to determine how much caffeine they’re consuming each day. Recognition of these hidden sources of caffeine can help individuals avoid overconsumption of this powerful stimulant.
Decaffeinated coffee/tea: The terms “decaffeinated” and “caffeine-free” are not interchangeable. That’s because the process of decaffeination leaves trace amounts of caffeine, meaning decaffeinated coffees and teas contain a small amount of the stimulant.
Chocolate: Consumers may or may not be surprised to learn that cocoa beans naturally contain caffeine. As a result, products that contain chocolate, which is made from cocoa beans, also contain caffeine. Dark chocolate generally contains more caffeine than light chocolate, with the U.S. Department of Agriculture reporting that a one-ounce serving of dark chocolate typically contains 12 mg of caffeine. However, various candies and other products that contain chocolate, including light varieties, are fortified with extra caffeine.
Headache treatments: Certain products that treat headaches contain caffeine. The manufacturers of two of the more popular pain relief products, Advil and Tylenol, assure consumers that their products do not contain caffeine. However, individuals who take Excedrin to treat headaches should know that three Excedrin products – Excedrin Extra Strength, Excedrin Migraine and Excedrin Tension Headache – contain caffeine.
Breath mints: Certain breath mints contain caffeine. For example, Viter Energy mints, which some consumers see as an alternative to coffee, contain caffeine. Viter notes that its Energy Mints contain 40 mg of caffeine per mint, or roughly the same amount as a 12-ounce can of soda.
Health care professionals feel that caffeine is generally safe for healthy individuals when consumed in moderation. But it behooves individuals to recognize hidden sources of caffeine that could potentially compromise their health if consumed to excess or along with other caffeinated products.