Pure caffeine powder has become a go-to stimulant for many young people interested in getting the best out of their sports performance or general workouts, but an FDA warning issued this month tells how dangerous the legal stimulant can be. Here are five things you need to know about caffeine powder, including why it poses such a health risk.
1.What is Caffeine Powder?
The first thing to say is, pure caffeine powder isn’t the same as coffee granules you might buy from the store. The products that the FDA is warning about are those that are sold over the Internet. They may contain 100 percent caffeine powder and as a result are incredibly potent.
To put into perspective how strong 100 percent caffeine is, the FDA calculates that just one teaspoon of pure caffeine powder is the equivalent of drinking 25 cups of coffee. If, like me, just one strong cup of coffee can be enough to give you the jitters, you might appreciate the danger of taking these powders.
So why hasn’t it been banned? Caffeine powder is usually sold as a dietary supplement and not as a medication or foodstuff. As a result it isn’t subject to the same federal regulations relating to how much can be used/sold at any one time. Health experts have been concerned about these products for a while now but, unfortunately, that message isn’t getting through to teenagers and young adults.
2. Why do People Take Caffeine Powder?
If you’ve ever bought or ever had an interest in weight-loss products, one of the key ingredients tends to be caffeine. There are two reasons for this: one is that coffee can help to speed up your metabolism, and the second is that caffeine acts as a stimulant. As it is not a banned substance many sports enthusiasts, including runners, footballers, and many gym goers take caffeine supplements to reduce fat but also to up their focus and energy during their workouts.
The problem with caffeine powder is that many young people are buying these powders online but are not aware of how potent they are and how damaging they can be.
Most recently, news surfaced of Logan Steiner, of LeGrange, Ohio, and how the 18-year-old died after overdosing on powdered caffeine on May 27. An autopsy later revealed that the high school wrestler had in excess of 70 micrograms of caffeine per millilitre of his blood. To put that into some kind of understandable context, it’s around 23 times the level of caffeine found in the average coffee or soda-drinker’s blood.
3. What are the Symptoms of Caffeine Overdose?
Caffeine overdose carries a lot of symptoms, and while they vary, they all require medical attention as they could be the sign of worse symptoms to come. They may include:
- a rapid heartbeat
- an erratic heartbeat
- disorientation or even stupor
- bowel incontinence
- cardiac arrest
If you believe someone you know is suffering from what is known as caffeine toxicity, it is important to get them medical attention as soon as possible as the condition can be fatal.
4. When it Comes to Pure Caffeine Powders, What is the FDA Recommending?
The FDA is recommending that all people who purchase these products, and the parents of children who might purchase these products, be aware of the dangers that caffeine powders pose. Ultimately, the FDA says pure caffeine powders should be entirely avoided. As there is no way for the average consumer to tell how much pure caffeine there is in caffeine powders, the FDA recommends people do not buy them. If you have been using them, and even if you haven’t had a bad reaction, you should stop immediately.
This does not necessarily mean that all caffeine supplements are bad, and those from reputable health and fitness stores who list the precise amounts of pure caffeine on their products may still be safe, but it is important to be cautious even and, if in doubt, consult your doctor.
5. Are there Safe Alternatives to Pure Caffeine Products?
While it is undeniably true that it is impossible to match the stimulant effects of pure caffeine with other ingredients that aren’t dangerous, there are a number of healthy drink recipes and shakes that can provide more than enough of a jolt of energy for a great workout.
Also, if you are experiencing low energy during working out it may be that, instead of turning to stimulants, you should take a look at your nutrition as ensuring a steady intake of nutrient rich foods will provide an optimal profile for sports performance.
Finally, the FDA is putting out a request that people report any problems they may have had after using pure caffeine or highly caffeinated products. You can report these problems by phone or by email as follows:
- By phone at 240-402-2405
- By email at CAERS@cfsan.fda.gov
Have you taken a caffeine supplement? What were your experiences? Please tell us in the comments below.
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