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Nutrition: The Dangers of Caffeine Powder

Here at Hilton Head Health weight loss camp and health spa, we know there are dozens of  fad dietary products out there being advertised to the general public daily. With the promise of quick weight loss, it’s easy to be persuaded to use these ineffective or even unsafe products. However, we advocate food and nutritional education for all our Guests while they are reaching their personalized weight loss and wellness goals at our weight loss camp and health spa. With the proper education and gained confidence, our Guests can make the best decisions to maintain their newly founded or improved fitness level, healthy lifestyle and maintained weight loss.

Though we focus heavily on weight loss and wellness achieved through healthy habits rather than quick fixes, not all weight loss advocates can say that they do the same. Legend has it that tea was discovered by Chinese Emperor Shennong  in 3000 B.C. when tea leaves accidentally fell into some boiling water, and so began our love affair with caffeine. According to Wikipedia, 90% of North Americans consume caffeine daily. In small amounts caffeine is not toxic and can even be beneficial. At the very least, for many, caffeine can increase alertness and provide an energy boost. Mounting evidence suggests that small amounts of caffeine (not more than 400 mg, the amount in 4-8 oz cups of regular coffee or 8 cups of tea) might even lower the risk of some chronic diseases.  Unfortunately, we were recently reminded that if a little of something is good,  more is not necessarily better.

Until the recent overdose death of an Ohio teenager, I had never heard of powdered caffeine. Legally and easily available, powdered caffeine is so potent that as little as a teaspoon can be fatal. Logan Stiner, a healthy 18-year-old athlete and prom king died on May 27, 2014. The official cause of death was listed as seizures and cardiac arrhythmia brought on by caffeine overdose. The medical examiner determined that Logan had taken more than a teaspoon of the powder. The recommended dose is 1/16 of a teaspoon. A 23-year-old British man also died of caffeine overdose in 2010 after ingesting 2 spoonfuls of the  powder.

Caffeine powder has caught to attention of the FDA and it released this statement on July 18, 2014 regarding the matter.

The FDA advises consumers to avoid pure, powdered caffeine.  Powdered caffeine is a powerful stimulant and very small amounts may cause accidental overdose – just one teaspoon of pure caffeine is roughly equivalent to the amount in 25 cups of coffee. Because it is very difficult to accurately measure powdered pure caffeine with common kitchen  measuring tools one be easily consume a lethal amount. Symptoms of caffeine toxicity or overdose can include rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea, stupor and disorientation, seizures and death.

It is marketed as a performance enhancer for weight loss and muscle development. The FDA recommends that parents of teenagers be on the lookout as they are most likely to be drawn to these products because of their perceived benefits.

If you are wondering why the FDA would allow such a potentially dangerous substance to be available, the fact is that they have no control over what dietary supplements are brought to the market. The Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA) states that the manufacturer of a dietary supplement or dietary ingredient is responsible for evaluating the safety of the product before it is marketed. (sounds like the fox guarding the hen house) The FDA is responsible for taking action against any unsafe dietary supplement product after it reaches the market. According to  Daniel Fabricant  of the FDA, “with dietary supplements, there is no pre-market approval, once a product is on the market, the burden is on the FDA to prove the a product is unsafe”. That proof comes a little late for the family of Logan Stiner.

The video below, provided by ABC News, gives more information about caffeine powder, the FDA and safety measures.


ABC News | More ABC News Videos

We hope that you continue to avoid quick, unhealthy fixes like caffeine powder, and continue to lose weight and achieve wellness the healthy way as taught at our weight loss camp and health spa. Why do you think it’s important to avoid quick fixes?

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