A 23-year-old British man reportedly died from a caffeine overdose after consuming caffeine powder and energy drinks at a party in Mansfield, England last April, CNews reported last week.
Michael Lee Bedford purchased the caffeine powder online and likely used it to delay drowsiness caused by excessive alcohol consumption. An inquest on the incident was held Friday.
Before his death, friends saw Bedford downing "spoonfuls" of caffeine powder and the inquest ruled that he had taken what would have been the equivalent of 70 energy drinks.
Dr. Tony Massey, senior medical director for CIGNA's behavorial health division, told AOL Health that research studies have consistently shown that consuming a moderate amount of caffeine each day (around 200 milligrams) is perfectly safe. That's the amount found in about two to three cups of coffee.
Caffeine may cause adverse health effects if consumed in amounts greater than 500 milligrams, particularly in people who are caffeine sensitive, and Massey says anyone who consumes more than 1,000 milligrams is likely to have short-term problems, including:
-- Jittery feelings
-- Muscle twitching
-- Heart palpitations
-- Gastrointestinal disturbances
-- Heart palpitations
-- Breast tenderness
Even though caffeine in moderate doses is safe, Dr. Eric Braverman, clinical assistant professor of integrative medicine in neurological surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weil Cornell Medical Center and founder of PATH Medical, says "it is not intended to replace sleep."
He told AOL Health caffeine's use as "an alertness aid" should only be occasional. If used chronically to stave off sleepiness, the user may experience caffeine-induced insomnia.
Massey says a lethal dose of caffeine would be about 10,000 milligrams, the equivalent of 100 cups of coffee. "That's an amount that's hard to consume through food and drink alone," he says, "but it would be possible with pills" or, in Bedford's case, with caffeine powder.
Braverman says caffeine poisoning rarely results in death. However, people already suffering from anxiety, seizures, heart disease, high blood pressure or liver disease are at increased risk of death from an overdose of caffeine.
"No one should take more than 1,600 milligrams of caffeine powder in a 24-hour period, and children under 12 should not take it at all," he said.