I want to decrease my caffeine intake, can you get headaches from no longer drinking caffeine?

I think it is great that you are taking interest in changing your diet. So many people consume very high amounts of caffeinated beverages. I have found that majority of my patients start out each day with a dose of caffeine (mostly coming from coffee). I review my patient’s food recalls and at least 9 patients out of 10 states that they consume at least 1 to 2 cups of coffee every morning. I am not necessarily opposed to my patients consuming coffee/caffeine (in moderation). According to Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN, INHC, “small to moderate dose of caffeine (20 to 200 milligrams) can make you feel more alert, focused, energetic and upbeat and has been associated with some neuroprotective benefits like enhanced short-term memory and reduced cognitive decline risk. Caffeine also has been shown to help the body perform better during physical activity.” Many over-the-counter medications, diet pills, and some pain relievers contain some caffeine. Surprisingly, caffeine itself is considered a pain killer and can help increase the effectiveness of other pain relievers. Despite some positives to caffeine, too much of a good thing is not a good thing. Those taking in high levels of caffeine (>750 mg) may cause excretion of calcium and magnesium. This may put one at risk for osteoporosis. And caffeine may lead to slight increases in blood pressure, which is certainly not good for our cardiovascular health.

According to the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a healthy adult can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. Caffeine is mainly found in coffee and tea leaves, but cocoa powder and kola nuts also contain caffeine. This amount would equal three to five 8-ounce cups of brewed coffee per day. And might I add that many brands of coffee differ in the amount of caffeine. It is the same thing with caffeinated soda. Energy drinks range from 40 to 100 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounces. One can of Diet Coke contains ~42 mg of caffeine. This may not sound like much but for some people, sipping on caffeinated beverages all throughout the day is common, and the amounts consumed add up. This word, “safely”, basically means that consuming that much caffeine isn’t likely to cause any immediate physical harm. Caffeine withdrawal is another drawback. Low-grade symptoms like sleepiness, headache and lethargy can occur, and some people even experience flu-like symptoms if they don’t get their fix. My advice is to be kind to yourself during that time. Try to avoid loud noises/bright lights and remember to drink a lot of water during that time. Sugar cravings and a hankering for energy-dense, fatty foods often crop up when someone’s trying to cut caffeine. Be sure to get plenty of physical activity and limit exposure to sweets and fast food. Finally, when you have successfully weaned yourself off of caffeine, drinking a glass or two of 100% fruit juice a day is great! With Old Orchard 100% Juice Blends, the options are endless! But remember, too much juice may deliver a wallop of calories and those calories may lead you to gain weight. Be sure to make water your primary fluid for the day.

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