Screen Caffeine

What are the sources of caffeine?

Caffeine is naturally found in certain leaves, beans, and fruits of over 60 plants worldwide. Its bitterness acts as a deterrent to pests. The most common sources in our diet are coffee, tea leaves, cocoa beans, cola, and energy drinks. Caffeine can also be produced synthetically and added to food, beverages, supplements, and medications. Product labels are required to list caffeine in the ingredients but are not required to list the actual amounts of the substance.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) classify a “moderate intake” of caffeine as “generally recognized as safe.” This means that if you consume a moderate amount it is generally safe for the people on whom it has been studied. Most of these studies have been done on adults. Here is the definition of what is considered low, moderate, high, and heavy amounts of caffeine intake:

  • a low to moderate intake is 130 mg-300 mg per day
  • a moderate is 200 mg-300 mg per day
  • high doses are above 400 mg per day
  • heavy caffeine consumption is more than 6,000 mg/day.

It is estimated that the average daily caffeine consumption among Americans is about 280 mg/day, while some people consume more than 600 mg daily. The top three sources of caffeine in adults are coffee, soda, and tea.

One mistake that people make is assuming that decaffeinated means that there is no caffeine in the food or beverage. Decaffeinating happens through a process. According to the site, decaffeinating coffee usually consists of soaking the beans in water to dissolve the caffeine, extracting the caffeine with a solvent or activated carbon, and then re-soaking the beans in the decaffeinated water to reabsorb the flavor compounds that were lost in the initial extract. A study published by the Journal of Analytical Toxicology found that nine out of 10 tested cups of decaf coffee from coffee from shops and restaurants contained 8.6 mg-13.9 mg of caffeine. It also found that decaffeinated espresso shots contained 3 mg-16 mg of caffeine per shot. Another study done by Consumer Reports tested 36 cups of small decaf coffees from six locations. They found that more than half had less than 5 mg of caffeine while the rest had a range from 20 mg-32 mg per cup. Depending on how much you consume in a day, you can end up consuming more caffeine from decaffeinated drinks than you would in one cup of coffee.

There is no way to know for sure exactly how much caffeine you consume so it’s a good idea to put a limit on the total amount caffeinated and decaffeinated products that you consume. You can also choose products with lower caffeine contents. You won’t find the content on the food labels, so refer to this chart. Make sure that you check the serving size on the can, bottle, or cup and do the math based on the serving size provided here:

Caffeine source Amount of caffeine
Plain, brewed coffee 8 oz 135 mg (range 102-200)
Instant coffee 8oz 95 mg (range 27-173
Espresso 1 oz 40 mg (range 30-90)
Plain, decaffeinated coffee 8 oz 5 mg (range 3-12
Green tea 8 oz 53 mg (range 40-120)
Black tea 8 oz 40-70 mg
Barq’s root beer 22 mg
Coca-Cola Classic 12 oz 35 mg
Diet Coke 12 oz 47 mg
Dr. Pepper 12 oz 42 mg
Diet Dr. Pepper 12 oz Data 44 mg
Jolt Cola 12 oz 72 mg
Mountain Dew regular or diet 12 oz 54 mg
Mountain Dew, MDX, regular or diet 12 oz 71 mg
Pepsi-Cola 12 oz 38 mg
Diet Pepsi 12 oz 36 mg
Sunkist Orange 12 oz 42 mg
Tab 12 oz 46.5 mg
Vault 12 oz 71 mg
Full Throttle energy dring 16 oz 144 mg
Monster Energy 16 oz 160 mg
Red Bull 8.5 oz 80 mg
Rip It energy drink 8 oz 100 mg
Sobe No Fear energy drink 8 oz 130 mg
Spike Shooter energy drink 8.4 oz 300 mg
Milk chocolate bar 1.5 oz 9 mg
Sweet chocolate bar 1.45 oz 37 mg
Cocoa powder mix 3 tsp 5 mg
Hershey’s Special chocolate bar 1.45 oz 31 mg
Hot cocoa 8 oz 9 mg (range 3-15)
Jolt caffienated gum, 1 stick 33 mg
Ready-to-eat chocolate pudding 4 oz 9 mg
Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch 8 oz 84 mg
Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Flavored Ice Cream 68 mg
Häagen-Dazs Coffee ice cream 8 oz 58 mg
Häagen-Dazs Coffee frozen yogurt 8 oz 58 mg
Excedrin Extra Strength, 1 tablet 65 mg
Bayer Select Maximum Strength 64.5 mg
Midol Menstrual Maximum Strength 60 mg
NoDoz Maximum Strength, 1 tablet 200 mg
Pain reliever tablets 65 mg
Vivarin 1 tablet 200 mg