Be Alert To The Effects Of Too Much Caffeine

March is Caffeine Awareness Month and HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospitals in Breese and Highland and HSHS Holy Family in Greenville want to share how the stimulant affects our brain and body.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates 80% of U.S. adults consume caffeine daily. Although it can help with alertness, health experts say overdoing it can cause dangerous side effects including:

Increased risk of heart attack

Increased blood pressure


Skin aging and wrinkling


Increased anxiety

One known effect of caffeine is the negative stimulation of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands sit on the kidneys and have a role in releasing hormones when we are confronted with stress. When caffeine is consumed, these glands are stimulated to release adrenaline into the body. This can affect sleep patterns and make us less alert in the morning and throughout the day.

“Caffeine is a stimulant and although you may feel it take effect in about 30 minutes, it can remain in your system for as long as eight to 10 hours,” says Kayla Barnes, RD, LD, registered licensed dietitian for St. Joseph’s Hospital in Breese and Highland and Holy Family in Greenville.

The FDA recommends no more than 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine daily for adults, less is recommended for those who are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine and how quickly it breaks down in the body. Keep in mind, the amount of caffeine contained in foods and beverages varies widely.

One, eight-ounce cup of black coffee: 95mg

One, eight-ounce cup of green tea: 35-70 mg

One, eight-ounce energy drink: 50-250mg

One, 12-ounce can of cola: 40-50mg

One, eight-ounce can energy coffee: 145mg

Caffeine is not recommended for children, and women who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breast feeding. It also should not be mixed with certain medications, so talking with your health care provider about medication management is important.

If you decide to lower your caffeine intake, Barnes says drink more water to avoid dehydration and cut back gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms such as headache and anxiety.

St. Joseph’s Hospital in Breese and Highland and Holy Family in Greenville offer clinical nutrition services with registered and licensed dietitians Kayla Barnes, Angela Kruse, and Brooke Lipe. These dietitians provide knowledge and education on how to live a healthier lifestyle while still maintaining convenience and affordability.

Counseling appointments are available Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with a referral from your primary care physician. For more information or to make an appointment, contact Kayla Barnes, RD, LD, at 618-526-5336 or email

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