One cup or two? That gum’s got caffeine, too!

May 24, 2013

We all know that too much caffeine can lead to health issues such as high blood pressure, heart function issues, migraine headaches, insomnia and incontinence in the elderly, including our aging parents.  And, most of us are aware that coffee, iced tea, soda and chocolate can be high in caffeine.  But, did you know that other foods can contain high caffeine content, too?

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

Caffeine is showing up in more foods and beverages than just your morning cup of coffee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Caffeine overdoses can contribute to a number of problems, including high blood pressure, heart function issues, migraine headaches,
insomnia, and incontinence in elderly individuals.  Most people are aware that products such as soda, coffee, and chocolate tend to be high
in caffeine, but many are not aware that other foods also contain high amounts of caffeine as well.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is researching and evaluating the safety of adding caffeine to traditionally non or low-caffeinated foods.

How much caffeine is too much caffeine?

The FDA says that healthy adults can consume about 400 milligrams of caffeine daily, which is the equivalent of about four or five cups of
coffee; however, the term “healthy adult” can be a difficult to define precisely, especially when applied to seniors. Consult with your doctor
to determine what amount is appropriate for you.  Those with medical issues such as arrhythmia or incontinence may need to be especially
careful of consuming too much caffeine.

The good news for elderly patients is that many caffeinated products are targeted at a younger population.  These products include high
energy or energy booster drinks, jelly beans, marshmallows, potato chips, and sunflower seeds.  A new brand of highly caffeinated gum was pulled from the market just recently due to the controversy of boasting enough caffeine to equate four cups of coffee!

While the products named above are not usually staples of a senior diet, there are some products on the caffeinated list that elderly
individuals may be more likely to consume. Among these are certain waffles and an instant oatmeal which, according to the FDA, “boasts that one serving has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.”  Even some bottled water brands offer caffeinated alternatives.

The FDA will be investigating the possible consequences of adding caffeine to such a range of products and the possible health impact that
this can have.  In the meantime, shoppers who need to be aware of their caffeine consumption should check labels carefully.


FDA Consumer Update on Caffeine

Center for Science in the Public Interest: Caffeine Content of Food & Drugs (Chart)



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