Food: Less obvious sources of caffeine

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 7, 2024

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Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance in the world. Caffeine speeds up the central nervous system and can make users feel more alert. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada says more than 80 percent of adults regularly consume caffeine, which is often used to provide an energy boost or increase alertness.

It’s widely recognized that caffeine is found in coffee, teas, colas, and chocolate in varying amounts. Still, some may be surprised to learn caffeine can be found in other places as well. While some caffeine daily is generally safe, excessive caffeine consumption can cause insomnia, headaches and high blood pressure, says the Mayo Clinic. Quitting caffeine cold turkey also can lead to withdrawal symptoms, particularly for those who consume it regularly in high amounts.

Learning about less obvious sources of caffeine can help people avoid over-consumption.

• Energy drinks: The National Institutes of Health says the primary ingredient in energy drinks is caffeine. Approximately two-thirds of energy drink consumers now fall between the ages of 13 and 35. Energy drinks usually contain large amounts of sugar and anywhere from 80 to 150 mg of caffeine per 8 ounces. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said that 400 mg of caffeine daily has generally not been associated with adverse health effects. Most energy drinks are 16 ounces or more, so it’s important individuals monitor their consumption of such beverages. Drinking multiple energy drinks can quickly add up.

• Decaffeinated products: Despite the name decaffeinated, these beverages are not entirely devoid of caffeine. The FDA requires 97 percent of the caffeine to be stripped in products marked “decaf,” but that still leaves some caffeine.

• Snack bars and pre-workout drinks: Protein and energy bars and drinks may feature various ingredients to give individuals energy. It’s important to check the nutrition information to determine caffeine content.

• Kombucha: This product is a fermented tea beverage. Since tea contains caffeine, kombucha will have caffeine as well. Kombucha caffeine levels range from 5 to 15 mg per serving, says

• Additives: Some additives and other ingredients in foods and beverages contain caffeine. The Mayo Clinic says choline, ginseng, guarana, kola nut, malic acid, and maltodextrin can contain caffeine.

• Painkillers: Certain pain relievers, particularly those that are geared toward headache relief, contain caffeine. Caffeine is put into some painkillers to ensure their active ingredients work. A pill can contain upwards of 65 mg.

• Non-cola sodas: Cola sodas usually contain caffeine, but lighter soft drinks, such as lemon-lime or orange varieties, also can contain caffeine.