Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Feb 13, 2013 04:33 AM

How much Coke is too much

What I find interesting about this story is that they talk about her regularly consuming twice the daily recommended amount of caffeine. And while drinking up to 10 liters a day of Coke sounds like tragic health practices, per serving Coke comes no where near the highest quantities of caffeine that exist.

According to the Mayo clinic, 200-300 milligrams of caffeine a day is "moderate" (2-4 cups of coffee - they don't say what size "cup"), and 500-600 is "heavy". Now, 12 ounces of Coke is 35 mg of caffeine. Compare this to Hershey's special dark chocolate (20 mg), Coldstone's Mocha ice cream (52mg), Starbucks Venti coffee (415mg).

Say that 1200mg is twice the daily recommended amount (and the Mayo Clinci does not advocate consuming 500-600 as is) - that's 3 Starbucks ventis. And as someone who used to work at Starbucks, there are way more people doing that than apparently dying of caffeine overdoses.

I'm not looking to defend drinking as much Coke as this woman was doing - but linking the consumption to her death still feels like it's missing a number of pieces. Can you OD on sugar?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't think it's unreasonable to link drinking 10 liters of coke a day to her death.

    Other stories have attributed the coke to metabolic imbalances, including potassium deficiency.

    "[Her habit] "was a substantial factor that contributed to the development of the metabolic imbalances which gave rise to the arrhythmia".

    2 Replies
    1. re: C. Hamster

      If anything, I think the crazy amount of sugar she was consuming is more interesting. Not to mention that her health problems led to one of her children being born without tooth enamel.

      Clealry the Coke wasn't helping anything here - but stepping back, I'd have to say that the sugar looks like a bigger culprit than the caffeine (not that that helped).

      1. re: C. Hamster

        Yep, I agree. Caffeine might be the addictive element but the whole Coke package is what probably did her in.

      2. the sugar rotted all her teeth out

        Sugar got her liver

        Sugar and caffeine lowered her potassium which can lead to high blood pressure and heart problems

        1. She drank 2.6 gallons a day! Wow! That's amazing!

          That much fluid can cause problems.

          1. As someone who just this past hour had her first full-sugar Coke in over a year, I'm backing slowly away from the can right now. What a sad story.

            1. An excessive amount of any drink can be deadly, even water.

              10 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                That's a false comparison. The mechanism of death from excess water is unrelated to that caused by overdosing on toxic substances. There is nothing toxic in pure water — it is essential to sustain life. That is not the case with Coca-Cola.

                1. re: GH1618

                  I think that Chowser may have been referring to H20 intoxication depleting electrolytes and possibly leading to death if untreated.

                  1. re: Lillipop

                    I know. That's the point. There is nothing intrinsically poisonous about water. Death from overconsumption of water is not comparable to death from overconsumption of harmul substances. To argue that you can die from "an excessive amount of any drink" is to try to ignore or minimize the health hazards of colas. This is not a good thing — it's a distraction from the substantive question.

                      1. re: GH1618

                        Yes, you're right--sorry I was being flippant. The part that got me was the idea of labeling Coke that excessive amount can be bad for you. If a person's teeth are falling out, she's in terrible health, etc. from the soda, having a warning label won't do anything. The health hazards of coke in this woman's case was apparent, well before she died.

                        1. re: chowser

                          Yes, it's an extreme case, far from typical. Yet less extreme, but significant, overconsumption of sugar (largely through soft drinks) is typical, and is associated with widespread health problems in the general population. The title of this thread speaks to the general problem, not merely the extreme case.

                          I have started a new thread in this category on the subject.

                        2. re: GH1618

                          The effects of the Coke would probably be insidious as compared to the H20 which would be sudden onset and acute.

                          1. re: Lillipop

                            In this extreme case, you mean? Yes, but isn't the problem with hyponatraemia largely that the sodium concentration is reduced when the system is flooded with fresh water? Coke contains salt. How does this affect things?

                            1. re: GH1618

                              The H20 depletes the electrolytes and interferes with functions such as the electrical rhythm of the cardiac cycle it causes ICP/increased cranial pressure etc.The Coke may contain 50 mg.of sodium per 12 ounces.The daily requirement is 2000 even at 2 gallons/256 ounces per 24 hours which would equal 256 ounces of Coca Cola x 4mg. sodium per ounce of Coca Cola =1024 mg of sodium which is still well under the suggested daily amount.That amount equals 21 12 ounce cans of Coca Cola consumed which is close to the amount the article stated.Water intoxication is H20 that is consumed in copious amounts within a small time frame such as 4-5 gallons in a two hour time frame.Where do you think that fluid is going since it is not being excreted normally via the kidneys and urinary tract/perspiration etc.? Lungs...cells....brain cells etc. Cerebral edema and fluid in the lungs is critical stuff that can kill people if not treated quickly. So to summarize if the information given in the original article is accurate then the individual was not over consuming sodium from her Coca Cola consumption. She was consuming almost 800 mg. of caffeine and around 3000 sugar calories daily from Coca Cola.But that is for another post right?:)

                              1. re: Lillipop

                                Great explanation — thank you.