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Caffeine in Coffee Vs. Soda

| By Linda Tarr Kent
Caffeine in Coffee Vs. Soda
The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee can vary depending on coffee variety. Photo Credit coffee and coffee-beans image by Dmitri MIkitenko from Fotolia.com

In general, caffeine is considered safe if people stay within recommended limits. To avoid robbing the body of calcium and causing negative health effects, it’s best to keep total intake below 400 milligrams a day, advises Health Canada. That’s true whether you are drinking coffee, soda, other beverages that contain the drug or a combination of such drinks. Caffeine can occur naturally in plants such as coffee or be manufactured and added to foods such as soda. The amount of caffeine in soda and coffee can differ depending on the manufacturer and the variety.

Generalized Caffeine Amounts

Information offered to the public is often generalized when stating the amount of caffeine in soda or coffee. For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists a 5-ounce cup of brewed coffee as having 60 to 150 milligrams of caffeine, 2 to 5 milligrams for a 5-ounce cup of decaf coffee and 27 to 100 milligrams per 12-ounce servings of soda. However, the report also acknowledges that some products have higher caffeine contents than others.

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Coffee Considerations

If you're a coffee drinker, the amount of caffeine you take in per day can vary widely. A plain, 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee typically has 95 to 150 milligrams of caffeine, depending on the coffee variety and brand. A typical 16-ounce latte has 150 milligrams of caffeine, according to Connecticut’s Sacred Heart University. However, the amount of caffeine can vary widely by brand, with a 16-ounce serving of drip brew from one popular coffee producer containing 100 milligrams more caffeine than the same serving size of another, reports National Public Radio. The amount of caffeine in coffee purchased at drink stands can vary by day as well, even if a person buys the same size and type of coffee, according to the news agency.

Soda Considerations

If you prefer soda, some sodas have no caffeine, including lemon-lime drinks. The amount in cola drinks differs depending on the brand. For example, Coca-Cola products generally have 35 milligrams in a 12-ounce can, while Pepsi products have 35 to 38. Dr. Pepper has 41 milligrams, and sodas such as Mountain Dew and Mellow Yellow have even more caffeine, at 53 to 54 milligrams. Some brands of root beer have lower amounts, registering at 23 milligrams. It’s always best to check a soda’s label for caffeine. Some sodas that don’t bring caffeine to mind, such as orange soda, often do contain caffeine. One orange soda brand has even more caffeine than cola, at 41 milligrams, according to SHU.

Intake Statistics

Our caffeine source preference appears to change with age. The leading dietary source of caffeine for U.S. adults is coffee. The leading source for children is soda. About 70 percent of sodas contain caffeine, according to Johns Hopkins University. Estimates for North America say that 80 to 90 percent of adults and children consume caffeine habitually. The average per capita daily intake of caffeine in the United States is 280 milligrams. That’s generally the equivalent of a 17-ounce brewed coffee or 84 ounces of soda, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Warning

Staying within recommended caffeine limits can promote your ability to pay attention, according to SHU. Thirty milligrams or less of caffeine can alter mood and affect your behavior, while 100 milligrams daily can cause physical dependence along with withdrawal symptoms upon abstinence, reports Johns Hopkins University. While there are general recommendations for caffeine intake, the drug’s effect does depend on your physical condition, weight and sensitivity to caffeine. When you consume more than your tolerance, your thinking abilities and concentration worsen. With increased consumption you should have greater concern about health risks such as increased blood pressure. Symptoms of too much caffeine include sweating, anxiety, tenseness and inability to concentrate, according SHU.

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author image Linda Tarr Kent
Linda Tarr Kent is a reporter and editor with more than 20 years experience at Gannett Company Inc., The McClatchy Company, Sound Publishing Inc., Mach Publishing, MomFit The Movement and other companies. Her area of expertise is health and fitness. She is a Bosu fitness and stand-up paddle surfing instructor. Kent holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from Washington State University.
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