Caffeine is definitely the most popular stimulant. The history of using it is thousands of years, but despite that fact there are many controversies around the topic of its influence on human body. Not so long ago, on 27th May, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published report about caffeine, where the aspects of safety usage of this substance were mentioned. What can we learn from that report?
The European Food Safety Authority - what is it?
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) was created within a special program which was supposed to increase the safety of food products and ensuring possibly the highest security of consumers in the EU countries. As its actions, EFSA creates independent opinions and gives thorough scientific advice on the issues connected with food safety more or less directly. This authority also analyses and assesses safety of products and substances amenable to the regulative law, it also evaluates the statements declared with those products when some entities want to obtain permits to sell them in the EU countries. The EFSA scientific panels contain highly-qualified, independent experts.
The caffeine problem
Caffeine is a substance which occurs naturally in many products. Its sources are, among others: coffee and tea, but also cocoa and products containing the components mentioned above. Additionally, caffeine is added to many products, such as cola, energy drinks, diet supplements (including slimming products and those for sportspeople). The problem is that this substance, apart from the expected boosting action, also has some disadvantages which occur when intaken in too high doses. Those flaws are connected with the influence of caffeine on the circulatory and nervous systems, and they can cause insomnia, irritation, anxiety, tachycardia (fast heart rate), increase of blood pressure. Having that on mind, it is highly important to set safe doses of caffeine during one intake and during the whole day. A special group of experts appointed by the EFSA made an announcement on this subject few days ago.
Safe one-time dose of caffeine
On the basis of the research results it was stated that a one-time dose of caffeine up to 200 mg or the amount up to 3 mg per one kilogram of body mass (it's good to pay attention to the second predictor) is not a threat to health. Such a dose is not harmfull if it is consumed before any physical activity, e.g. before a sports training. There is no further risk of worsening health when other substances, which influence the nervous system, are added, and they may be:
- taurine (non-protein amino acid - a component of energy drinks),
- sinefrine (fruit origin alkaloid - a component of slimming supplements),
- alcohol (nobody needs explanation what it is).
Knowing the above, it is easy to notice that the hysteria, which is often triggered, concerning joining alcohol beverages with energy drinks is highly exaggerated...
Safe daily dose of caffeine
Safe daily dose of caffeine seems to be twice as high as a one-time dose. The EFSA experts decided that drinking up to 400 mg (or 5.7 mg of this substance per one kilogram of body mass) of this alkaloid per day is safe. This is the amount of about 4-5 cups of coffee. Another situation is during pregnancy and breastfeeding, here the limit is smaller by a half and equals maximum 200 mg of caffeine during the whole day. It is quite surprising that the experts did not suggest separate quantities of doses for children and youths assuming that there is not enough proofs to make such restrictions.
How much caffeine in products?
Knowing the present limits of intaking caffeine, it's good to put it in practice. In order to do that, it's good to wonder how much caffeine contain the most popular sources of it. And the situation is as follows:
- espresso (60ml) - 80 mg,
- a cup of coffee from a machine (200ml) - 90mg,
- a cup of black tea (220ml) - 50 mg,
- standard size can of cola (330ml) - 40 mg,
- standard size can of energy drink (250ml) - 80 mg,
- a portion of bitter chocolate (50g) - 25 mg,
- a portion of milk chocolate (50g) - 10 mg.
The values mentioned above are, of course, averaged. You should remember that the strength of coffee depends on how much of it we pour to a vessel, and not the volume of the vessel. Therefore, a cup of this dring may contain even 200 mg of caffeine if we make an essence of proper power! Also, in case of energy drinks, it's good to read the label, because there are some drinks which contain much more than just 80 mg of caffeine!
According to the EFSA experts, caffeine is a safe substance if it is intaken in one-time dose up to 200 mg and, at the same time, the daily intake is not higher than 400 mg. In case of pregnant and breastfeeding women, the daily limit is half of that value. When estimating daily supply of this alkaloid, it's good to take under consideration the fact that it is present in many food products.