How much coffee will kill you?

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The debate over whether coffee is good for you or not appears to be constantly changing. Some argue that consuming coffee will make you a healthier person while others argue it will put you in an early grave. The truth comes down to the same explanation as most substances; everything in moderation. The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine, also found in most energy drinks. A small amount of caffeine every day will do no harm and will produce some benefits. However, a high amount will hurt you and could kill you. How much caffeine would it take to cause death?

The answer to this question is far from straight forward. Depending on each person the limit for caffeine will differ greatly.  There have been numerous news stories about people drinking too many energy drinks and dying while playing sports. One study has found that there have been 34 deaths linked in someway with energy drink consumption. Most of these people only drank a handful of energy drinks in one day or less.

This could suggest that a handful of energy drinks is enough to poison but for most people, this is not true. The highest caffeine does that someone ingested and survived was 100 grams. To equal that in cups of coffee would require over 1,000 cups. This means that unless you have other conditions that may not have been discovered drinking a lot of caffeine will be difficult to die from. Of course, energy drinks put in many other strange chemicals that may make the situation more dangerous.

Studies have shown that drinking 5 to 10 grams of caffeine in a short period of time is dangerous too. Even this would be difficult in cups of coffee. However, there are many caffeine pills that would make this easy by only taking a few pills. On one occasion a one-year-old girl ingested her mother’s caffeine pills and nearly died. She ingested 3 grams of caffeine but as a percentage of her body weight, this was the second-highest dosage ever recorded where someone survived. 

Clearly there are other factors at play here and you should still be careful when drinking large amounts of caffeine but if you are planning to poison your husband there are better ways to do it than trying to get him to drink a thousand cups of coffee.

According to leading doctors, most people should limit their coffee ingestion to around 500mg per day. While simply exceeding this dosage will not kill you it will be poor for your long term health and could result in future complications as well as short term discomfort. One study has indicated that 90% of the US population consumes at least 200mg of caffeine per day, so many are likely over the 500mg limit. 

The average cup of coffee ranges from 40mg to 150mg of caffeine. Depending on how many cups you have and how strong you like your coffee you could go over the limit within a few cups. Similarly with energy drinks the average can about 150 mg while a normal soda has closer to 60mg. Again drinking a number of sodas in a day could easily put you over the limit.

Caffeine in high doses will cause jittery behavior, tension, anxiety, higher blood pressure, chest palpitations, headaches, dehydration, and addiction. There are considerable dangers to drinking high amounts of coffee that most people simply ignore. Like every substance, a small amount can be negligible or even positive but in excess, it can do a lot of damage. Make sure you monitor your caffeine intake and take breaks regularly to ensure you are not becoming reliant on a substance.