Does Your Diet Contain Hidden Caffeine?

May 27, 2013
incontinence in the edlerly

Do you have more caffeine than you think in your breakfast? (Photo courtesy of Natl. Cancer Institute)

Caffeine overdoses can contribute to a number of problems, including high blood pressure, heart function issues, migraine headaches, insomnia, and incontinence in elderly individuals. Most people are aware that products such as soda, coffee, and chocolate tend to be high in caffeine, but many are not aware that other foods also contain high amounts of caffeine as well. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began to look into the safety of adding caffeine to traditionally non- or low-caffeinated foods.

How much caffeine is too much caffeine?

The FDA says that healthy adults can consume about 400 milligrams of caffeine daily, which is the equivalent of about four or five cups of coffee; however, the term “healthy adult” can be a difficult to define precisely, especially when applied to seniors. Consult with your doctor to determine what amount is appropriate for you. Those with medical issues such as arrhythmia or incontinence may need to be especially careful of consuming too much caffeine.

The good news for elderly patients is that many caffeinated products are targeted at a younger population. These products include high energy or energy booster drinks, jelly beans, marshmallows, potato chips, and sunflower seeds; a new brand of gum from Wrigley’s contains as much caffeine in one pack as do four cups of coffee.

While the products named above are not usually staples of a senior diet, there are some products on the caffeinated list that elderly individuals may be more likely to consume. Among these are certain waffles and an instant oatmeal which, according to the FDA, “boasts that one serving has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.” Even some bottled water brands offer caffeinated alternatives.

The FDA will be investigating the possible consequences of adding caffeine to such a range of products and the possible health impact that this can have. In the meantime, shoppers who need to be aware of their caffeine consumption should check labels carefully.


FDA Consumer Update on Caffeine

Center for Science in the Public Interest: Caffeine Content of Food & Drugs (Chart)




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Writer, Craig Butler

Craig Butler has been writing on a wide range of topics for more than fifteen years. As the National Communications Director for the Cooley's Anemia Foundation, Craig regularly writes on a range of health and medical topics. Among the many projects he has written for the Foundation is the Cooley's Anemia Storybook, a collection of original short stories for children with the blood disorder Cooley's Anemia. His freelance work has ranged from reviewing moves and CDs to creating entertainment-related stories about baldness, to creating text for comic strips. Craig looks forward to having a dialogue with you about senior care and issues of concern.

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