Studies have shown a decrease in fertility when more than 300mg of caffeine is consumed daily. This means that a cup or two of strongly brewed dark roast coffee each day should not hurt your chances of becoming pregnant. But, there are other factors to consider and having the knowledge of how caffeine affects your body’s systems can help you decide whether a daily pick-me-up of coffee or tea is right for you or whether it should be avoided when trying to conceive.
Caffeine affects levels of certain adrenal hormones and neurotransmitters. This allows for the spike in energy after consumption but it can also trigger a dip in energy as the caffeine leaves your system, making one feel even more tired or sluggish than before having the cup of coffee or tea. Because these hormones have an effect on moods, those suffering from anxiety and depression might want to skip the associated highs and lows.
Caffeine affects the absorption of certain nutrients. The absorption of iron, vitamin A and certain B vitamins has been shown to be inhibited when caffeine is present in the system. All of these nutrients are essential for fertility and for maintaining a healthy pregnancy. The half-life of caffeine in the body is between four and six hours. Thus, caffeine should be avoided before and after taking vitamins or supplements. And, those who have a tendency toward anemia should very much consider avoiding an excess of caffeine.
Caffeine functions as a diuretic. Coffee and tea cause more frequent urination. This loss of fluid can lead to an electrolyte imbalance. It is essential when consuming caffeine to increase water intake to maintain proper fluid and electrolyte levels in the cells so that they can function properly.
Caffeine can maintain high blood sugar levels in those with diabetes or those who have insulin resistance. Clinical studies have shown an increase in the amount of time it takes for blood sugar levels to stabilize when caffeine is consumed in those who already have difficulty maintaining healthy blood sugar balance. So, those that do have this difficulty should not pair coffee with dessert.
The following table shows the approximate amount of caffeine found in different beverages and in chocolate. Caffeine amounts can depend of several factors. With coffee, lighter roasts have more caffeine than darker roasts. Herbal teas do not generally have caffeine. There are many teas available now that are blends of herbal teas and green or white teas. These will have less caffeine per serving than a straight green or white tea. And, medicinal teas are generally just herbal and do not have caffeine.
Product and Approximate Amount of Caffeine per serving
(8oz, unless otherwise noted)
- Coffee = 115 mg
- Espresso = 100 mg per 2 ounce serving
- Black Tea = 40 mg
- Green Tea = 20 mg
- White Tea = 15 mg
- Cola = 30 mg
- Commercial Energy Drink = 80 mg per can
- Dark Chocolate = >5 mg per ounce
- Milk Chocolate = <5 mg per ounce
Lastly, coffee, tea and chocolate all have healthful properties as well. As with anything, balance and moderation is the key. You can easily glean the antioxidant benefits of a cup of green tea without overdoing the caffeine. If you enjoy coffee for coffee’s sake but do not want the effects of the caffeine, you can choose a decaffeinated brew that uses the Swiss water method versus a chemical decaffeination process. And, it is best to pick organic when choosing coffees and teas to avoid chemicals used in growth and processing and allow for a healthier you and a healthier planet.
Kari Gardner, L.Ac. MSAOM, HHP
Acupuncturist and Herbalist at CNY Healing Arts, Syracuse