Friday, October 1, 2010

Caffeine Deficiency

My wife has been complaining that she always feels nauseous after taking her daily vitamin. On the theory that it was perhaps a result of taking them first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, she tried taking them at night with dinner. I saw with my own eyes what she was talking about: she almost vomited.

So, I told her to start taking mine instead and I'd finish her vitamins off. Well, I'm not doing that again. I don't know what it is about One A Day Women's Active Metabolism vitamins, but they made me sick too. While we hate wasting the money, we just chucked the rest of the bottle because there was no way either of us were ever taking those again. Before we tossed the bottle in the trash, though, we were examining the label for differences between her One A Day Women's Active Metabolism and my One A Day Men's vitamins that might account for the nausea. In particular, we were looking for ingredients that were in higher concentration in the women's vitamins.

There are a few: vitamins D, K, B1, B2, B6, Calcium, and Iron to be exact. But I couldn't find any hard evidence that any of these vitamins could cause the sort of nausea we experienced (at least not in quantities we are likely to be exposed to). But that is when we noticed what makes the women's vitamins earn the "active metabolism" moniker:

Caffeine, and lots of it. Guarana seed is just another source of caffeine, so it is possible that its 50mg is included in the total of 120mg of caffeine in each "vitamin" pill. But if not, that means that 1 One A Day Women's Active Metabolism pill has more caffeine (~170mg) than a cup of coffee (100-150mg) and approaching that of a single Vivarin pill (200mg).

While neither of us drinks much coffee and we try to avoid caffeinated drinks, I doubt that 170mg of coffee in the morning would be enough to induce nausea. After all, millions of people have a cup of coffee in the morning and that is approximately the same amount of caffeine.

But, we never expected to have caffeine added to vitamin pills. I guess that is what we get for not having looked at the label before buying them. We certainly won't be making that mistake again.

All that background out of the way, this experience got me thinking: just how much caffeine do people consume everyday now? Here my wife was getting a base 170mg a day without even knowing it. The marketing for caffeinated products tends to emphasize that it helps you stay "mentally aware"; how long before being constantly-caffeinated is considered the norm and the symptoms of caffeine deficiency are "mentally sluggish"?

At what point does caffeine go from "booster" to baseline? Is there a point in our future wherein caffeine belongs in vitamins and even has a FDA-recommended daily allowance?

1 comment:

rusureuwant2know said...

I know the term "caffeine deficiency" is being bantered around the web like it's a real medical condition and implying that it's a nutritional requirement makes me wonder about this generation's intelligence level, but that the vitamin companies have apparently bought into this to the point of adding it to their vitamins is absolute insanity...