Ask the Pharmacist: Caffeine should be consumed only in recommended amounts

Caffeine
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Pure powdered caffeine is being directly marketed to consumers, and the FDA wants you to know that pure caffeine could harm you.

It is a powerful stimulant that can cause erratic heartbeat, seizures and even death.

Walgreens Pharmacist Jill Biss said someone should not consume more than the daily recommended amount of caffeine.

"A safe limit of caffeine to consume would be about 400 milligrams, which is the equivalent of four cups of coffee or two energy drinks," she said.

She said it's always recommended you buy products in pharmacies that are regulated by the FDA.

"We do carry caffeine pills," Biss said. "One pill is essentially 200 milligrams of caffeine or about two cups of coffee. This is more regulated and you know exactly what you are getting per dose. Two pills per day of these would be tops."

She said children, pregnant women and heart patients should not dose their own caffeine.

"Any children, especially if hyper active, caffeine is a stimulant, so that would just make a hyper-active kid a little bit more active," Biss said. "Also pregnant ladies want to decrease the amount of caffeine to about one cup of coffee ... and definitely heart patients. If you have too much caffeine you get those heart palpitations or racing heart."

She said she doesn't typically have many customers in search of pure caffeine.

"We see it when someone needs to pull an all nighter or get a lot of studying done," she said. "We always do recommend that they follow the package insert with the dosing and make sure not to consume additional caffeine with it."

She said it's important to think about how much caffeine is in the things you eat and drink.

"Some medications like Excedrin headache medicines and even teas (have a lot of caffeine)," Biss said. "A lot of people don't think of teas, especially the sweet teas in the summertime."