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If you asked ten people, probably seven or eight of them would say that they can’t get through the day without caffeine—and it’s this reliance on the stuff that prompted the creation of National Caffeine Awareness Month. The holiday, which falls in March every year, is meant to make people stop and think about how much caffeine they’re consuming on a daily basis to ensure that they aren’t crossing the line from healthy to addictive.

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommendation for adults is a maximum of 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. That’s about four cups of coffee, which contain between 80 and 120 milligrams of caffeine depending on the size, or ten cups of tea, which have about 40 milligrams. Other common sources of caffeine include espresso drinks, which deliver 80 milligrams per shot, regular and diet soda, which have roughly 40 milligrams per can, energy drinks, which contain 160 milligrams per 16 ounces, and chocolate (our personal favorite), which contains up to 30 milligrams depending on the percent and the size of your treat. 

If you’re enjoying one or two of these per day, or even three occasionally, you’ll be getting the energy- and alertness-boosting perks of caffeine sans any unpleasant side effects. Caffeine has also been shown to improve memory and mental function and experts believe that it may help combat headaches and migraine symptoms and prevent type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and liver disease. So where do the cons come in? In most cases, the health problems or side effects that arise from over-consumption of caffeinated drinks and snacks are likely due to the other ingredients, namely sugar. Sugar is also a stimulant and can exacerbate the negative effects of caffeine, such as jitters, lightheadedness and an increase in blood pressure. To avoid these and still get your caffeine fix, choose drinks and snacks that are low in sugar or sugar-free, such as black coffee, unsweetened tea, sugar-free energy drinks, unsweetened and unflavored lattes and high percentage dark chocolate.  

Do you have a favorite healthy way to get a caffeine boost? We would love to hear about it in the comments below! In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about Power for Life Fitness and all the opportunities we can bring to your community to boost engagement, click here.

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