Many people enjoy the feeling of alertness and energy that a caffeine supplement provides. Caffeine is, however, not without risk. Too much caffeine can have dangerous side effects.
Although they have different forms, caffeine and caffeine anhydrous are chemically the same.
What is caffeine anhydrous?
Filtering water and other components from natural sources of caffeine forms caffeine anhydrous.
Image credit: Rafti Institute, 2005
Caffeine occurs naturally in plants such as coffee beans, tea, and cacao, which is the source of cocoa for chocolate.
Through specific laboratory processes, which include filtering out the water and other chemical components, the caffeine from these plants will form caffeine anhydrous.
This dehydration process means caffeine anhydrous is more concentrated and, therefore, more potent than regular caffeine.
Caffeine anhydrous and caffeine
Caffeine and caffeine anhydrous will both have positive and adverse effects on the body. These effects include:
The positives of caffeine anhydrous include:
- providing a more standard dose in comparison with brewed drinks
- being more convenient to carry around in the form of a pill, gum, or gel
- improving athletic performance
The negatives include:
- existing in a pure, powdered form, which is very potent and can result in an overdose with just a small error in measurement
- making it possible to take a fatal overdose accidentally
- sharing a side effect profile with normal caffeine
The positives of caffeine include:
- being easily accessible and safe to consume in moderate amounts
- creating a feeling of alertness and reducing fatigue, as it is a central nervous stimulant
- alleviating tension headaches in combination with pain relievers
- improving athletic performance
The negatives include:
- being difficult to quantify, as brewed drinks vary in their caffeine content according to brew time and the amount of water
- causing an erratic heartbeat if consumption is excessive
- making anxiety or insomnia worse
- acting as a diuretic and causing a person to urinate too much, which may result in dehydration
Side effects and risks
Heavy caffeine use may cause side effects that include headaches, restlessness, and trouble sleeping.
The side effect profile and risk factors for caffeine and caffeine anhydrous are similar.
The FDA cite that healthy adults can consume up to 400 mg of caffeine per day in any form without adverse side effects.
That is equivalent to about 4 or 5 cups of regular strength coffee.
If a person consumes more caffeine than this, side effects can occur.
The severity of the side effects will depend on the person's tolerance to caffeine, which will vary according to body size, average consumption levels, medications, and even genetics.
Common side effects of heavy caffeine use include:
- trouble sleeping
- nausea or lack of appetite
Who should avoid caffeine anhydrous?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warn against highly concentrated caffeine in powder and liquid forms.
The difference between safe and toxic amounts is minimal, and the product is difficult to measure using standard kitchen tools. One teaspoon of pure powdered caffeine, for example, contains the same amount of caffeine as 28 cups of coffee.
Therefore, people must be careful when it comes to the amount of caffeine they ingest. The following people in particular need to take care.
It is best that people who are pregnant avoid caffeine anhydrous as they should be limiting their consumption of caffeine to less than 200 milligrams (mg) daily during pregnancy.
It is possible that higher daily doses of caffeine may increase the risk of miscarriage and impaired fetal growth. However, more research is needed to confirm this.
People who are breast-feeding
Recommendations state that those who are breast-feeding should also limit their caffeine consumption to 200 mg daily. Newborns and premature infants are especially sensitive to the effects of caffeine.
Children and teenagers
The American Academy of Pediatrics state that children and teenagers do not need to consume any energy drinks containing caffeine and other stimulants. Energy drinks are often high in calories so they can also increase the risk of becoming overweight or obese.
Energy drink companies encourage teenagers to use their products to gain more energy, improve concentration, or advance athletic performance. Parents should talk to their children about the risks of caffeine supplements.
People on medications
Caffeine anhydrous has the potential to interact with certain medications and herbal supplements so people taking any of these should check with a doctor before starting a caffeine supplement.
Signs of overdose and withdrawal
Chest pain and a rapid heartbeat may be symptoms of consuming too much caffeine.
Excessive caffeine intake can lead to intoxication. The symptoms of too much caffeine include:
- rapid heartbeat
- chest pain
Although these side effects are severe, caffeine toxicity is very unlikely with moderate consumption of caffeine in food and beverages.
Toxicity is more likely with anhydrous caffeine though, particularly when it is in a pure powdered form as this is difficult to measure accurately.
It is also possible to have withdrawal symptoms from caffeine, even within a day of the last dose.
Typical symptoms of withdrawal can include:
Gradually decreasing caffeine intake can help lessen these symptoms.
Caffeine is a naturally occurring substance that has some beneficial effects, including an increased feeling of energy and better athletic performance.
Caffeine anhydrous makes it possible to take in higher amounts of caffeine without having to drink large quantities of tea or coffee. However, the risk of consuming too much means that it is best for people to avoid using purer forms of caffeine, such as caffeine anhydrous, at home.
The use of potent forms of caffeine, such as caffeine anhydrous, carries many risks, so it is essential to only use products from a reputable manufacturer who regulates their production.
Why should I avoid caffeine?
You should check with your healthcare provider whether you should limit or avoid caffeine intake due to underlying health conditions, such as migraines, anxiety, heart disease, irregular heart rhythms, high blood pressure, or insomnia.
Also, pregnant and breastfeeding women should significantly limit caffeine intake, and caffeine intake is not recommended for children or teenagers. Also, many medications interact with caffeine, so speak to your healthcare provider about caffeine before beginning a new medication or supplement.Katherine Marengo LDN, RD Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.