How much is too much caffeine?

powdered synthetic caffeine stock photo

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – The death of an Ohio teenager is placing focus on the dangers of powdered caffeine.

Last month, the teen overdosed on the substance. 23 times the amount in a typical coffee or soda was found in his system.

Powdered caffeine has hit the internet with a jolt. But can it be safe?

600 milligrams: That’s the recommended maximum dose of caffeine per day.

One regular cup of coffee has between 100 and 150 milligrams of caffeine in it. A can of pop about 45 milligrams. Shift to a new way to get your morning jolt, powdered caffeine. A newish product to hit the internet shelves.

The recommended maximum dose of that is one-sixteenth of a teaspoon.

“Now, you tell me how you measure out one-sixteenth of a teaspoon. Because in one full teaspoon, you’re probably getting five-thousand milligrams of caffeine. About 70 red bulls,” said Dr. Randy Stevens, Union Hospital.

That hits the toxic range aka the danger zone. And it’s well-known caffeine is a stimulant.

“What are some of the other stimulants that we know? Cocaine, methamphetamine, all those are stimulant medicines, pills, drugs. Caffeine, at those high levels, is definitely just as toxic as they are,” said Dr. Stevens.

Since the birth of energy drinks, emergency room visits have almost doubled with symptoms of overdose.

“In 2007, there were probably 10,000 visits. In 2011, over 20,000 visits of people who’ve ingested too much caffeine,” said Dr. Stevens.

Dr. Stevens isn’t saying abstain from your guilty pleasure.

But he is saying, recognize this can be addictive and potentially harmful if you’re not careful.

Signs of a caffeine overdose: you get a little bit shaky, a little bit nervous. Some people with higher doses get a little bit nauseated, can actually produce diarrhea, all of these really severe side effects. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you confirm your email address and acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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