The Health Impacts of Drinking Too Much Coffee

Nothing like a good cup of coffee once in awhile. But everyone has gone overboard with their caffeine consumption. What are the effects of too much coffee and caffeine.

I love a good cup of coffee, first thing in the morning or in the afternoon after a good day of work. I am drinking a cup of coffee right now. Is coffee good for you or is it bad for you. Maybe the question should be is caffeine good or bad for you. Or is it something that is in coffee bean itself.

Recent studies have made coffee look like a miracle drug as it reduces the risks for a long list of diseases. I love statistics and I love studies, but whenever I read a study about anything, I have to look first to see who funded that study. That makes a big difference.

One group who is doing great deal of funded research about coffee is the Vanderbilt University Center for Latin American Studies Institute for Coffee Studies (ICS). Lets take a look at who is funding this institute according to their web page. The ICS started in 1999 with a grant from a consortium of coffee producing countries, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Guatemala and other Central American countries under the sponsorship of the Association of Coffee Producing Countries (ACPC), National Coffee Association of the USA and the All Japan Coffee Association. The ICS also received support from the following.

  • International Coffee Organization
  • Kraft Foods
  • Nestle
  • Sara Lee
  • Starbucks

You have to look at studies for coffee that is supported by all these coffee producers with a cautious eye.

Caffeine Studies

Many studies, including the studies with the ICS report their studies in cups of coffee. The ICS reports, “The latest scientific evidence indicates that in moderation (2 to 4 cups per day) coffee may offer key health benefits”. What is a cup of coffee, researchers use 6 ounces equals one cup of coffee. So the above statement says that moderate coffee drinking is 12 to 24 ounces of coffee. You need to keep the math in mind when reading any studies about coffee. You can also consider the milligrams of caffeine in coffee when reading studies. Drip coffee has approx. 145 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per 8 ounces. Most studies I read indicate that drinking more than 300 mg per day is too much. That’s just two 8 oz cups of coffee. Also different roasting of coffee changes the caffeine amount. A lighter roast of coffee has more caffeine in it than a darker roast. That is why Starbucks doesn’t (or didn’t used to) sell their light roasted breakfast blend after noon, a lot more caffeine. Another example is Folgers dark roast has less caffeine than their classic medium roast. And I can tell a difference in how I feel between the two.

How too much coffee affects you.

Coffee and caffeine does wake up your brain, it elevates your mood and causes you to be more alert. The downside is that you come down from that elevated feeling and then you feel worse. So you then need to get more coffee to get back to that feeling. Coffee or more accurately caffeine is an addictive substance. When most people stop drinking coffee and all other products that contain caffeine, their bodies will go through withdrawal symptoms, which include headaches, dizziness, constipation or other stomach troubles, fatigue and irritability. These withdrawal symptoms usually go away in at most in ten days.

As everyone knows too much coffee gives you the jitters, makes you nervous, sweaty palms, causes sleep problems and maybe you’ve even had heart palpitations or chest pains. None of those things are good. That is stress on the body. What coffee does is cause your body to go into a defense and survival related mechanism called “fight or flight”. Something we all have as part of our makeup. Caffeine puts our bodies into a constant state of stress and fight or flight mode.

Sure coffee gives you energy but at what cost. Not long after that caffeine energy you feel down again. This energy is in the form of your brain telling your adrenal glands to pump out more and more stress hormones, so the energy is really just stress. And it’s a well-known fact that stress is a killer. This also weakens the adrenal glands, which in turn causes other health problems.

The adrenal glands also make DHEA, which is important. Worn out adrenal glands cannot produce as much DHEA.

A dose of 250 mg of caffeine has been shown to elevate the levels of the stress hormone adrenaline by 200%.

Coffee raises the levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad type).

The results of controlled studies in humans indicate that coffee and caffeine consumption decrease the efficiency of calcium absorption resulting in a loss of about 4-6 mg of calcium per cup of coffee, which increases the risk of osteoporosis [1, 2].

Caffeine reduces the absorption of B vitamins, thiamine, calcium, zinc and potassium.

Coffee inhibits the absorption of iron. Drinking 150-250 ml (5 oz to 8 oz) of coffee with a test meal has been found to inhibit the absorption of iron by 24-73% [3, 4].

Caffeine can raise blood pressure, anxiety and panic attacks.

Coffee beans (unless organic) are one of the most heavily pesticide sprayed crops in the world.

If a person were to be injected with 500 mg of caffeine, within an hour that person would exhibit the signs of mental illness with hallucinations, paranoia, manic and depressions. That amount of caffeine taken over the course of a day would only exhibit more mild forms of the above, for which many people regularly take antidepressants and tranquilizers. [5]

There are conflicting studies, whether or not caffeine is dehydrating, most studies state that anything over 16 ounces per day will be dehydrating.

There are many more caffeine products on the market today under the guise of energy drinks and some of them have as much as 100 to 200 mg of caffeine per ounce compared to brewed coffee, which has 13.5 mg of caffeine per ounce.

Today there is large increase in road rage, and interestingly that seems to correspond with the huge increase in caffeine products on the market and consumption. We seem to have become a nation addicted to caffeine, more so than ever before.

I have been a heavy coffee drinker and I have also gone years without having any coffee or caffeine at all. I did notice when I didn’t drink coffee I had more steady energy all day long. None of the up and downs throughout the day.

If you would like to give up coffee but still want to drink something hot, here are some alternatives to try.

Roastaroma caffeine free herbal tea from Celestial Seasonings

Teeccino products


An excellent book concerning the negatives of caffeine is Caffeine Blues by Stephen Cherniske, M.S.

© 2009 Sam Montana

Article; Healthier teas for energy


[1] Barger-Lux MJ, Heaney RP. Caffeine and the calcium economy revisited. Osteoporos Int. 1995;5(2):97-102

[2] Hasling C, Sondergaard K, Charles P, Mosekilde L. Calcium metabolism in postmenopausal osteoporotic women is determined by dietary calcium and coffee intake. J Nutr. 1992;122(5):1119-1126

[3] Morck TA, Lynch SR, Cook JD. Inhibition of food iron absorption by coffee. Am J Clin Nutr. 1983;37(3):416-420.

[4] Hallberg L, Rossander L. Effect of different drinks on the absorption of non-heme iron from composite meals. Hum Nutr Appl Nutr. 1982;36(2):116-123.

[5] Stephen Cherniske, M.S. Caffeine Blues 1998 p. 124-125.


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