It’s no secret that many of us are heavily reliant on caffeine to get through our daily lives. As many as 85% of all Americans consume some form of a caffeinated beverage at least once a day, and more than half of all citizens consume more than 300 mg of it daily. Coffee, soft drinks, and energy drinks are the primary ways most of us get our fix, but another alternative has become popular in recent years. This is the caffeine pill.
Caffeine pills contain much more caffeine than a standard serving of coffee or Cola and don’t require the hassle of preparation that comes with the former source. They are also fairly cheap, with effects that last for up to 6 hours. But all good things come at a cost, and if you’re not careful, caffeine pills can have serious consequences for your health. In this article, we’ll discuss caffeine pills in great detail. We’ll explore what exactly they are, how they compare to coffee, the things you need to know before switching, and much more.
What are Caffeine Pills?
Caffeine pills are tablet supplements that provide between 100 to 200 mg of caffeine. The caffeine here could be sourced naturally, or artificially from a lab. To contextualize how much caffeine a pill has, a cup of coffee generally has 60-120 mg of caffeine, an 8 ounce serving of tea has around 40 mg, while energy drinks can contain anywhere between 40-250 mg of caffeine. This makes almost 200 mg one of the single largest sources of caffeine out there. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily recommended intake is around 400 mg.
Caffeine can have several benefits that make high doses desirable. These include better focus, increased energy levels, improved memory, etc. This is why caffeine pills have become particularly popular among students who need something to help them stay up all night preparing for an exam, or completing that overdue assignment. However, if you’re someone who doesn’t really enjoy the taste of coffee and drink it only for the buzz, pills might be a more efficient alternative. It’ll save you the time spent preparing a cup or standing in line at your local cafe, and might even cost lesser overall. All you need to do is swallow a tablet and wait for the magic.
Are Caffeine Pills Safe?
Caffeine pills, if used correctly, are as safe as drinking coffee, or any other way of consuming caffeine. No matter how the compound reaches your body, overuse has the same effects regardless of method. Caffeine dependence can be a terrifying menace that causes headaches, excessive sweating, and irritability, and exceeding the 400 mg limit regularly might well result in these negative consequences. It is also important to remember that caffeine is a psychoactive compound, and excessive usage can worsen symptoms of mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders and others.
There are a few things you can do to avoid any mishaps. While the math indicates that keeping to two pills a day should be enough, some factors complicate things. Everybody reacts to caffeine in unique ways, and so you need to be careful and observe how yours reacts to caffeine pills. Make sure to check how much caffeine is in the pills you’re taking, and separate the consumption of each pill by at least 8-10 hours.
Some people need to be extra cautious when taking caffeine pills due to the potential effects it might have. Those with high caffeine sensitivity, heart-related ailments, hypertension, should stick to low doses of caffeine. Pregnant women and couples trying to get pregnant should also keep their intakes in check. Lastly, anyone who is an adolescent or younger should avoid coffee and caffeine as far as possible. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, only those above 12 should be consuming any caffeine at all, and until adulthood, this amount should not exceed 100 mg.
Coffee vs Caffeine Pills
The Merits of Caffeine Pills
Taking caffeine pills can eliminate several hassles of drinking coffee. You don’t need to spend any time regularly purchasing supplies, preparing the coffee, or in cleaning your implements. You can skip the long lines at Starbucks too. But besides being more convenient, drinking coffee, especially on an empty stomach, can cause irritable bowel syndrome, among other related issues. Though switching to lower acidity variants can help cope with this issue if you prefer liquid caffeine, it can still be a concern for those with sensitive stomachs. Depending on how you brew and filter your coffee, you might also be consuming harmful LDL cholesterols that come with the oils in coffee. These are most common in espressos, and if you consume multiple cups in a day, pills might be the safer option for you.
A third health issue that coffee drinkers experience is acid reflux. Though this is in part caused by the caffeine itself, you might have an easier time with pills over coffee if its a recurring issue. Some have found that their symptoms continue to worsen with caffeine pills, but this is something that’s highly subjective and unique to each individual.
Lastly, caffeine pills are perfect for those who don’t particularly like the taste of the coffee. The addition of milk, cream, and sugar, sometimes in copious amounts, to counteract the fundamentally bitter taste of coffee can have serious health implications. If you’re on a diet, you might want to skip these fattening ingredients and switch to pills to provide you with the same, if not slightly higher levels of energy and focus.
The Big Disadvantage of Caffeine Pills
Amidst all the positives, there is perhaps one big concern about caffeine pills worth discussing. Though careful usage should minimize any risks, in theory, a caffeine overdose is still much more likely with pills than coffee. This can result in anything from minor effects such as dizziness, irritability, and nausea, to some extreme outcomes like seizures and death.
Though you probably know that 4 cups of coffee a day is the recommended limit, you likely also know friends or colleagues who can overshoot that limit with ease. However, if you’re an athlete, excessive caffeine in your bloodstream can lead to a positive drug test. Just as caffeine is desirable for students due to its mental aids, the drug also possesses physical benefits that reduce the perception of pain, improves coordination, etc. However, because it is easier to consume excessive amounts of caffeine through pills, overdoses are likelier and athletes should be particularly wary.
If your caffeine pills contain the compound in amounts closer to 200 mg than 100 mg, you might also want to check in with your doctor before switching. This is to ensure that the caffeine won’t interfere with any other medication you might be taking. But perhaps a greater threat than the mixing of mediations and caffeine is the interaction of caffeine with alcohol. This combination is known to induce a heightened disposition towards risky behavior, and those looking to switch should avoid consuming these pills before drinking.
If you’re only looking for the benefits of caffeine in a cup of coffee, caffeine pills are a genuinely viable alternative to consider. You can avoid many of the potential hazards of a cup by just taking a pill that will on average give you a greater buzz than the traditional 8-ounce serving. There are certain people who we’ve mentioned should be extra cautious, but as long as your intake remains below 400 mg a day, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.