A Small Dose of Caffeine

  • An Introduction to the Health Effects of Caffeine


Caffeine Dossier

  • Name: Caffeine (1,3,7-trimethylxanthine)
  • Use: most widely used stimulant in the world
  • Source: coffee, tea, cola and other soft drinks, chocolate, stimulant pills, some analgesics
  • Recommended daily intake: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advised pregnant women to "avoid caffeine-containing foods and drugs, if possible, or consume them only sparingly."
  • Absorption: rapid following oral consumption
  • Sensitive individuals: fetus, children, some adults
  • Toxicity/symptoms: high dose - agitation, tremors; withdrawal - headache
  • Regulatory facts: GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe)
  • General facts: long history of use
  • Related xanthines - Theobromine (3,7-dimethylxanthine) and theophylline (1,3-dimethylxanthine)
  • Environmental: contaminates sewage discharge
  • Recommendations: be thoughtful about consumption

Caffeine Chapter

PowerPoint Presentation

More Information and References

European, Asian, and International Agencies

  • International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation. IFIC's mission is to communicate science-based information on food safety and nutrition to health and nutrition professionals, educators, journalists, government officials and others providing information to consumers. IFIC is supported primarily by the broad-based food, beverage and agricultural industries.
  • UK Department of Health Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment. Reproductive Effects of Caffeine 2008. Excellent report on the reproductive effects of caffeine.

North American Agencies

  • US MedlinePlus. Caffeine Information. Medline has multiple references on caffeine, including a number of useful web-based links.
  • US Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction. Caffeine. The US National Toxicology Program (NTP) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) have established the NTP Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction in 1998. The Center provides scientifically based, uniform assessments of the potential for adverse effects on reproduction and development caused by agents to which humans may be exposed.


Non-government Organizations

  • The Vaults of Erowid. Caffeine. The Erowid website has a wide range of information on caffeine.
  • Organization of Teratology Information Specialists. Caffeine and Pregnancy. Advises women to limit caffeine consumption during pregnancy.



  • James, Jack E. Caffeine & Health. New York: Academic Press: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1991.
  • Weinberg, Bennett Alan and Bonnie K. Bealer. The World of Caffeine: The Science and Culture of the World's Most Popular Drug. New York and London: Routledge, 2001.


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