Caffeine doesn’t bother me. I seem to be able to drink it at bedtime and then go right to sleep. But there are a lot of people caffeine does bother. A lot. So how much caffeine is in various foodstuffs, like carbonated beverages, is a matter of interest. It is added intentionally for its CNS stimulating effect. In other words, it’s a drug. The fact there is caffeine in the product is on the label but the amount isn’t.
Colas, pepper-like beverages and citrus beverages usually or often contain caffeine. A paper published ahead of print in the Journal of Food Science shows there is huge variation in caffeine content but also some general rules of thumb:
Most national brands were found to be higher in caffeine content than store brands. In addition, citrus beverages were found to contain the highest caffeine levels compared to other categories. Diet sodas contained higher levels of the compound compared to their regular counterparts.
The researchers analyzed 56 varieties of national-brand and 75 private-label store brand carbonated beverages. Average caffeine contents of each carbonated beverage were determined from a minimum of 2 different lots. The beverages analyzed in this study were purchased between June 2005 and July 2006.
Some of the more common national-brand carbonated beverages analyzed included Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr Pepper, Mountain Dew, and their diet varieties. Store brands examined included products from Wal-Mart, Kroger and Winn-Dixie’s. Overall caffeine contents ranged from 4.9mg/12oz to 74mg/12oz.
In national-brand colas, the highest value (57.1 mg/12 oz) was found in Pepsi One. Except for the lower caffeine contents of Ritz Cola and Red Rock Cola and the higher caffeine content of Pepsi One, the remaining samples contained 33.3 to 48.1 mg caffeine/12 oz.
The caffeine contents of 10 national-brand pepper-type beverages ranged from 39.4mg/12oz (Cherry Vanilla Dr Pepper) to 44.1mg/12 oz (Diet Dr Pepper).
For citrus beverages, the range was 19.7 to 74.0mg/12oz.The greatest caffeine content (74.0mg/12 oz) was found in Vault Zero. Except for the lowest caffeine content of Faygo Moon Mist (19.7mg/12 oz), the other beverages contained more than 49mg caffeine per 12 oz.
Out of the private-label store brands tested, caffeine contents of regular colas ranged from 4.9mg to 46.4mg/12 oz. Diet colas had levels ranging from 10.3mg to 61.9mg. Private-label pepper-type sodas had levels ranging from 18.2 to 59.8 mg/12 oz. For citrus drinks, the range was 25.1 to 55.1 mg/12 oz. (Food Navigator News)
Since you don’t know how much is in each bottle or can, it’s hard to know how much you should (or shouldn’t) drink. Not that anyone knows this exactly, and it obviously differs for different people. Here are the recommendations of various authorities (take them with a grain of caffeine):
Government bodies have specified the maximum levels allowed in sodas: in the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets the limit at 0.02 percent, or 72mg/12oz; Canada sets limits in cola-type beverages of 200ppm, or 71mg/12oz; Australia sets limits of 51mg/12oz; and limits in New Zealand are 71mg/12oz.
The American Dietetic Association – as well as the Food Standards Agency in the UK – advises people not to consume more than 300mg of caffeine per day. Health Canada advises consumers to limit their caffeine intake to 400 to 450 mg per day. This advice is particularly aimed at pregnant women, who, studies indicate, have greater risk of miscarriage or babies with low birth weight if they exceed the 300mg barrier. (Food Navigator News)
Those limits seem pretty high. That’s about ten cans of the average cola. The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee varies a great deal by bean, brewing method, etc. Figure 75 mg to 175 mg for a 7 oz. cup. If your coffee is as strong as mine that’s two cups a day. Tea, maybe a third to a half as much as coffee. So a can of cola is less than an average cup of coffee and maybe almost as much as a cup of tea.
Supposedly Coke and Pepsi announced in February they will put caffeine amounts on labels. I just looked on a can of Diet Coke and it isn’t on there. At least I don’t think so. My hand was shaking too much to read the tiny print.