Back in the day when coffee was coffee and tea was tea, it was easy to tell how much caffeine you were imbibing. The darker it was, the more caffeinated.
Now, in the age of the Dunkin’ Donuts Strawberry Dragonfruit Coconut Refresher, it’s virtually impossible. Tea’s no longer dark or light, it’s teal. Or fuchsia. Or Vermillion.
That said, it can be hard to tell just by looking at the drinks whether or not Dunkin Refreshers have caffeine. Let’s take a closer look and find out.
Caffeine Occurs Naturally
Many beverages and treats have caffeine in them. There’s caffeine in tea, coffee, energy drinks, Coke, and Pepsi.
There’s caffeine in chocolate. 3½oz of cocoa chocolate (the dark kind) delivers a whopping 240mg of caffeine: equivalent to 2½ cups of coffee.
Kola nuts, once the key ingredient in Coca-Cola contain caffeine. In West Africa, the kola nut is eaten raw, dried, and ground into a condiment. It’s practically a unit of currency.
You will even find caffeine in decaffeinated coffee, just not as much, but it’s there. A cup of decaf can contain anywhere between 1mg and 50mg.
Dunkin Refreshers Have Caffeine, But How Much?
The motherlode where caffeine is concerned is green tea extract. It’s widely used in a variety of Dunkin’ Donut drinks, both for its caffeine and as a flavorant
To put things in perspective, let’s take a look at how the caffeine content in Dunkin’ Donuts Refreshers compares to other caffeinated beverages across the board.
|Brand||Caffeine (mg) per Ounce|
|Dunkin’ Donuts Refreshers||4,13|
Now let’s look at how Refreshers compare to other Dunkin’ Donuts’ other drinks.
|Beverage||Size||Size (fl oz)||Caffeine (mg)||Caffeine (mg) per Fluid oz|
|Classic Cappuccino / Latte||Small||10||118||11,8|
|Iced Green Tea||Small||16||45||2,8|
|Iced Sweet Tea||Small||16||42||2,6|
As you can see, the amount of caffeine per fluid ounce goes down as the drink gets larger.
The benefits of drinking caffeinated beverages are manifold:
- Hypervigilance, increased reaction time, heightened alertness, and improved concentration.
- In women 65 and older, two cups of coffee a day is enough to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- One cup a day will lower your risk of stroke.
- It helps you metabolize sugar, protecting you against type 2 diabetes.
- Coffee drinkers have better liver enzyme levels than people who don’t drink coffee.
- Coffee drinkers are 26% less likely to get colon and rectal cancers.
- Here’s the kicker: there is evidence to suggest that dark roast coffee reduces the number of naturally-occurring breaks in your DNA. It’s these breaks that ultimately lead to malignant and cancerous tumors.
Over-indulging in caffeinated beverages has consequences. Some of the deficits that accrue are as follows:
- Insomnia: Sleeplessness or disturbed, shallow, and disrupted sleep. To really benefit from sleep, it needs to be continued long enough to reach the REM or dreaming state. If you keep waking up throughout the night, you can’t achieve that level of restorative unconsciousness. Insomnia invariably leads to exhaustion and depression. If it persists, it can seriously derail your life and must not be ignored.
- Anxiety: A general sense of unease and nervousness, often accompanied by tics, jumpy, restless movements, and irritability. Anxiety is stressful. It has a negative effect on your general health, especially your immune system, making you susceptible to a host of opportunistic infections like colds, flu, and boils.
- Tachycardia: An elevated pulse rate indicates that your heart is beating faster, which is fine for short bursts but not for extended periods of time.
- Hypertension: Consistently high blood pressure is a silent killer. It can lead to all kinds of potentially fatal long-term conditions. It’s the prime reason why you should get regular checkups, even if you feel fine.
There are several contexts in which caffeine is to be avoided:
- Pregnancy: The elimination of caffeine from your and your baby’s system is drastically delayed during pregnancy. The resultant buildup impairs blood flow and reduces oxygen levels, aggravating the risk of low birth weight and possible miscarriage. While small amounts of caffeine are safe during pregnancy, it’s better to eschew it altogether or switch to decaf.
- Ephedrine: If you use a nasal decongestant, you should know that ephedrine amplifies the effects of caffeine and can cause hypertension, stroke, and seizure.
- Theophylline: Commonly used in asthma medications to open up bronchial airways, this drug also interacts with caffeine, leading to heart arrhythmia and palpitations.
- Echinacea: Used to treat colds and flu, this herbal extract can lead to high concentrations of caffeine in your body. While not potentially fatal, its effects are extremely unpleasant.
The FDA-recommended limit of 400mg a day is just that: a recommendation. It stands to reason that a 6’3″ 25-year-old male is going to have a higher tolerance than a 5’6″ 38-year-old female.
Your best way forward is to pay attention to how you’re feeling. Listen to what your body is telling you. If you have any of the symptoms described above, take the following actions:
- Monitor yourself. Use the tables provided to work out how much caffeine you’re drinking on a daily basis.
- Try replacing stronger beverages with others that are weaker but just as tasty.
- Eat something! Like alcohol, caffeine isn’t digested, it’s absorbed straight from your stomach lining into your bloodstream. But if it’s mixed with food, it doesn’t pass directly from your gut and takes that much longer to metabolize. So, grab a muffin or a rice cake on your way to that second cup.
- Another option is to increase the amount of time between cups. Check your watch, gauge your frequency, then dial in an extra 30 minutes. After a week or so, once you’re comfortable with the new regime, add another 30 minutes. That alone should be enough to make you feel better.
- Remind yourself of a lesson learned over decades at countless addiction clinics: you really only need 25% of what you’re using to achieve the same effect.
It’s down to you to find the Goldilocks Zone: that state of equilibrium between use and abuse where you experience all of the benefits and none of the deficits.