Three mature African-American men sitting in a coffee shop drinking coffee.

Caffeine Considerations for Seniors

Do you love to start your day with a lift of caffeine from coffee, tea or another caffeinated beverage?

If yes, you aren’t alone. Studies show that 85% of U.S. adults consume 135 milligrams of caffeine daily. This is equivalent to 12 ounces of coffee, a favorite drink among seniors. In fact, seniors are the most dedicated demographic of coffee drinkers in the U.S., with about 72% of Americans aged 60 or older drinking coffee every single day.

If you’re a longtime caffeine devotee, then you may notice changes in how caffeine affects you as you age. Why does this happen, and how much caffeine is safe to consume as you get older? Keep reading for the answers you need!

What is Caffeine?  

Caffeine is a substance that naturally occurs in more than 60 plants, including coffee beans, tea leaves, kola nuts (used in soft drinks), and cacao pods (used to make chocolate). There is also human-made synthetic caffeine, which is added to some medicines, foods and drinks.

What are the Benefits of Caffeine?

It’s common to hear about the drawbacks of caffeine, but consuming a healthy amount of caffeine can actually lead to possible health benefits!

A healthy amount of caffeine may:

Check out these 6 Healthy Habits of Super Agers.

What are the Disadvantages of Caffeine?

On the other hand, consuming too much caffeine can cause health problems, such as:

Check out our blog, How to Know When Drinking Too Much Water is Dangerous.

How Does Your Body Process Caffeine Differently as You Age?

According to UCLA Health, it’s possible to develop caffeine sensitivity, especially as you age. That’s because the enzymes involved in caffeine metabolism grow less efficient with age, leaving older adults clearing caffeine from the body more slowly than younger people. One study showed that coffee drinkers between the ages of 65 and 70 took 33% longer to metabolize caffeine than did younger participants.

This means the same amount of coffee that you’ve been habitually drinking for decades could have an amplified effect as you age. 

How Much Caffeine Should Seniors Drink?

UCLA Health shares that most older adults can tolerate 50 to 100 milligrams (mg) of caffeine well. This is a bit less than the usual recommendation of 400 mg of caffeine a day for most healthy adults.

If you’re experiencing unpleasant side effects of caffeine, such as jitteriness, rapid or irregular heartbeats, headache, irritability or insomnia, it could be time to revisit your caffeine consumption and cut back. Try limiting yourself to one caffeinated cup a day or switching to a half-caf blend.

Here are the amounts of caffeine expected per 8-ounce (240-mL) serving of some popular beverages:

  • Espresso: 240–720 mg
  • Coffee: 102–200 mg
  • Yerba mate: 65–130 mg
  • Energy drinks: 50–160 mg
  • Brewed tea: 40–120 mg
  • Soft drinks: 20–40 mg
  • Decaffeinated coffee: 3–12 mg
  • Cocoa beverage: 2–7 mg
  • Chocolate milk: 2–7 mg

Want more? Check out our blog, 10 Powerful Superfoods to Try This Year.

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