As a North American consumer, you may not realize just how much caffeine is in your favorite corner-store soda or coffeehouse beverage. Unfortunately, not knowing can have repercussions on your health — and you are not alone in this.
Recently, a group of Florida researchers looked into this phenomenon. What prompted them to look at caffeine levels is the bounty of so-called “energy drinks” that have popped up across North America. These drinks promise to give people a quick jolt of energy.
Well, it turns out that jolt has a price — a price the Average American doesn’t know much about because caffeine levels are not listed on these drinks.
The researchers looked at the 10 most popular energy drinks, 19 sodas, and seven other beverages on the market to see how much caffeine we might be guzzling without realizing it. While the caffeine content of soda varied extensively between drinks, the one constant was that many energy drinks had double the caffeine levels of regular products.
Here are some numbers on popular sodas’ caffeine content for you. A 12-ounce “Coke Classic” had 29 mg of caffeine while “Diet Coke” had 38 mg. “Mountain Dew” had the highest of any soda, with 45 mg. They still pale to coffee, which has between 100 and 150 mg of caffeine in an eight- ounce cup. Keep in mind, however, that if you have a couple sodas, it can really add up fast.
Then there are energy drinks, which use caffeine purposefully for providing the energy boost that they promise. Researchers discovered that while SoBe’s “Adrenaline Rush” claims several nutrients as its energy sources, it also has 80 mg of caffeine. SoBe’s “No Fear” had an astounding 141 mg of caffeine in 16 ounces. And the infamous “Red Bull” energy drink packed 67 mg in an eight ounce can.
Caffeine is loosely regulated, if at all. The researchers found that coffee and energy drinks exceeded the maximum allowance for carbonated soda drinks — the only ones that are regulated. On the coffee front, let’s take a look at Starbucks. In a 6.5 ounce cup, the “Doubleshot” had 105 mg, the “Frappuccino Mocha” had 72 mg, and the “Frappuccino Vanilla” 74 mg.
Consumer groups are pushing for drink makers to put caffeine levels on their labels. It would allow people to make better-formed judgments about whether or not to buy the caffeine-laden products, for starters. Caffeine affects every person differently, and in some people it can cause headaches, insomnia, increased heart rate, and high blood pressure.
Caffeine isn’t a good source of energy either, as it will lead to that inevitable “crash” at some point after you drink it. Remember that caffeine is a stimulant — not an energy source.