Dietician sounds off on caffeine consumption

For any coffee drinker, nothing beats that first cup in the morning, except maybe the second cup.  But, getting your caffeine fix is no longer limited to that bitter brew.

"It's being added to so many different products now. I think as a population, we're also stretching ourselves so that we are multitasking, generally getting less sleep so caffeine has an appeal to our population," said registered dietician Claudia Cormier with Healthy Lives at Our Lady of the Lake.

Caffeine now comes in all forms and flavors.  So many in fact that the federal government is looking into whether or not certain products with added caffeine are safe - especially for children.

The Food and Drug Administration recently launched an investigation after Wrigley halted production of a new caffeinated chewing gum.

"We need to better understand caffeine consumption and use patterns and determine what is a safe level for total consumption of caffeine. Importantly, we need to address the types of products that are appropriate for the addition of caffeine, especially considering the potential for consumption by young children and adolescents," said Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at FDA in a press release.

"We have to think about, if we have so many different products that are available caffeinated and marketed as caffeinated drinks, gum, jelly beans, you name it products and a child take in five, six, seven products a day, is there a side effect to that?" added Cormier.

Caffeine stimulates the nervous system.  Cormier says the pros and cons of caffeine consumption are all over the map.  Some studies show benefits of moderate consumption, like prevention of Parkinson's Disease.  However, too much caffeine can mean heart palpitations, irritability and nervousness.

"My recommendation to people would be, know your own personal, your body, your risk factors, your disease profile, and make a decision about this product for you. Talk to your pediatrician, talk to your primary care physician," said Cormier.

According to the FDA, 400 milligrams of caffeine is considered safe for adults.  That is equal to about four or five cups of coffee.

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