Caffeine pills can be easily accessed, transported, and are cheap. A 120-count pack of 200-milligram capsules can be purchased for about $6.99 online or at your local pharmacy. They’re small enough to fit in any backpack. It’s no surprise that college students depend on them to help with morning fatigue, afternoon slumps, and pulling all-nighters. Although caffeine pills are a great source of energy, there is a question: Are they safe? Here are the facts.
What Are Caffeine Pills?
Caffeine is a stimulant. It acts on the central nervous system (nerves, brain, and spinal cord) to make you more alert and awake. You can make your own or use synthetic caffeine to make caffeine pills. While every pill is different, most contain between 100 and 200 mg of caffeine.
What Is the Difference Between Caffeine Pills & Coffee?
There are some differences between coffee and caffeine pills. Caffeine pills are more portable and accessible than coffee. Some people don’t like coffee or tea. Coffee can be bitter so people add creamer or sweetener to their coffee. A pill eliminates the sugar shock and bitter taste of coffee. The pill is also calorie-free, which could be part of its appeal.
Coffee can sometimes irritate the stomach and trigger heartburn. This is why some people choose to take caffeine pills. You also get a quick hit from caffeine pills if you take a lot of them at once. The pills contain a higher concentration of caffeine than other beverages, which can make the caffeine crash more severe.
Caffeinated beverages can contain beneficial compounds, in addition to caffeine. L-theanine (found in tea) helps prevent side effects from caffeine. Caffeine pills do not contain these compounds and increase the risk of side effects.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2011 when energy drinks were very popular, emergency departments started seeing people who had consumed too many. Tens of thousands were treated for caffeine-related problems in the wake of this.
If you have stomach upsets, heart racing, insomnia, or other side effects, any amount of caffeine could be too much. It all depends on your tolerance to caffeine’s effects and how fast you can break it down.
According to the FDA, a healthy adult can consume up to 400 mg of caffeine per day. This is equivalent to about four to five cups of coffee. The FDA also pointed out that higher caffeine intake can pose a risk to pregnant women, children, and adolescents, as certain medications and conditions can make them more sensitive and vulnerable.
Too much caffeine can have toxic effects. According to the FDA, seizures and other serious effects have been associated with a rapid intake of approximately 1,200 mg. Caffeine can be dangerous when taken in high doses or combined with stimulants.
According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), consuming more than 10 grams of caffeine per day could lead to death. The FDA also warned several manufacturers about high-concentration caffeine in powder or liquid forms. There have been only two deaths from this type of caffeine.
What Are Caffeine Side Effects?
According to a JAMA article published in February 2022, high doses of caffeine can lead to “agitation, severe anxiety, and elevated blood pressure” as well as palpitations. If you experience any of these symptoms or have signs of an overdose, it is important to consult your healthcare provider immediately. Overdose symptoms include nervousness, irritability, and difficulty sleeping. Side effects such as dry skin or a rash can also occur, but they do not need medical attention.
But what if you have caffeine jitters and it’s not a serious problem? You can use water and walk to help with minor caffeine ingestion. In more severe cases, intravenous hydration may be required or medication to treat irregular heart rhythms. Dialysis is an option in life-threatening cases.
So, Are Caffeine Pills Safe?
Although 400mg of caffeine per day is considered safe, this doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a healthy lifestyle. It is possible to become dependent on caffeine pills. They are not recommended because of the risk. It is much easier to consume too much caffeine and the benefits of caffeine supplements are not as great. Talk to your healthcare provider first if you are interested in trying caffeine pills.