How much caffeine is safe?
Caffeine is included on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) list as a substance “generally recognized as safe.” However, the FDA has established a maximum concentration for caffeine in cola beverages of 71 mg per 12 oz. Other than colas, the caffeine content of food and beverages is not regulated. Dietary supplement labels frequently do not give the exact amount of caffeine since it is often part of a “proprietary blend,” and caffeine is combined with other caffeine-containing herbs such as black or green tea leaf extract, guarana, maté (yerba maté), and cola nut. According to scientific evidence, an acute oral dose of caffeine is 150-200 mg/kg bodyweight—about 10-14 grams for the average person—and can be fatal. However, sensitivity to caffeine differs from person to person, which has not been addressed from a toxicity perspective. Also, limited evidence is available on the toxicity of caffeine when combined with the other stimulants and ingredients in dietary supplement products. And of course, any amount of caffeine may affect your quality of sleep. For more information on caffeine, read the monograph in HPRC’s Dietary Supplement Classification System series.