Everybody knows coffee
contains caffeine. And soft drinks. And chocolate. But did you know that
headache medicine contains caffeine? What about ice cream? You are
probably ingesting more caffeine per day than you realize. Just because
you limit yourself to two cups of coffee or one soda doesn’t necessarily
mean that’s where the consumption ends. The hidden caffeine that the
average person ingests in any given day may not necessarily be a
significant amount, but since everybody reacts to caffeine a little
differently you may be getting just enough more than you and adversely
affecting your health.
Finding the caffeine content on a bottle of soda is relatively easy.
Finding out how much caffeine is in a candy bar more often than not
requires a magnifying glass. Knowing how much caffeine you’re getting with
that cup of coffee from either the convenience store or the Starbucks on
the way to work is usually a guessing game.
Let’s start with the obvious: coffee. The actual caffeine content in any
given cup of joe can vary wildly based on a number of things. These
variables include the type of bean used, the method of roasting, how is
was prepared, and how long it was brewed. Instant coffee contains less
caffeine than the generic bag of coffee you buy at the grocery store and
brew. The flavored stuff you buy in a tin at the grocery has less than the
coffee in a bag, but slightly more than the instant. Obviously, the big
honking cups you get at most coffee shops are going to have significantly
more caffeine than what you drink in a small mug at home. And don’t be
fooled by the idea of decaffeinated coffee. An average 8oz serving of
decaf should still net you about 5mg of caffeine.
Sodas and sports drinks vary as well, perhaps even more so. Red Bull and
Jolt lead the way, offering up a surge of over 70mg of caffeine each. And
while Mountain Dew is famous for its hefty caffeine content, did you know
that Pepsi One actually contains half a milligram more? The Dew’s fellow
yellow/green competitors aren’t far behind and then you get down to the
colas. But which do think has a higher caffeine content: Coca-Cola Classic
or Diet Coke? Would you be surprised to find out it’s Diet Coke? By an
impressive 10mg per serving? If you want to enjoy your soft drink while
avoiding caffeine altogether, you can always try the popular brand name
lemon-lime, orange or root beer sodas. Most of these are truly
What about medicine? Most pain relievers contain caffeine. Excedrin leads
the way, with 130mg of caffeine in two—that’s two—tablets. Compare that to
Anacin with just 64mg per two tablets. The really odd thing here is that
many times the headache for which people are taking this medicine is
related in some way to caffeine.
Often these are people who suffer from migraines that are triggered by
caffeine. And though they may be careful not to drink coffee or sodas, or
eat chocolate, they still suffer unwittingly. How? By eating things that
they don’t realize contains caffeine. While it might be a no-brainer to
expect that coffee-flavored ice cream has caffeine, what about
coffee-flavored yogurt? Or how about a SlimFast Cappuccino Delight Shake?
All of those still no-brainers because of the connection to coffee? All
right, fair enough. But did you know that menstrual relief medication as
well as certain cold medications contain caffeine? Not to mention diet
pills and even allergy medication.
Caffeine can be found in many unexpected places. While not everybody needs
to be overly concerned with the so-called hidden caffeine, if you suffer
migraines, are pregnant or are experiencing any other health problems that
could be aggravated by increased caffeine consumption, it’s always worth
reading the label.
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