Today I was bored in the office (no!) and I was chatting with a colleague about a freebie they had been given in the railway station on the way to work this morning. Remember those thin mint strips that just melted on your tongue? Well now you can get fruit-flavoured versions loaded with caffeine. Well, I say loaded; they each contain 20mg of caffeine.

Which naturally led on to, “just how many of these would a person be able to consume before they died?”. Naturally. So let’s work it out.

Like all good things, caffeine is toxic if you consume enough of it.  But just how much is that?  The LD50 of caffeine for a human adult is between 150 and 200 mg per kilo of body mass.

Let’s say that the average British adult weighs 70kg, and they have a fairly low tolerance to caffeine. That means they could ingest up 10.5g of caffeine per day and the chances are they’d survive.  It doesn’t mean they’d be ok (consume too much and you really, really, won’t be), but they’d likely not actually die.

And what does that equate to? 525 of those little caffeine strips, 80-ish cups of coffee (even I don’t drink that much of it), or 132 cans of Red Bull (250ml version). Wow.

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