July 15, 2017 1:14 PM   Subscribe

Are there any differences between different brands of caffeine pills? Are they all the same, and the price differences just reflect marketing and packaging? Should I be scared of the ones that are packaged in a hyper-masculine way? I'm interested in users' experiences as well as pharma-geniuses'.

I need to buy caffeine pills. There are so many different brands. Some of them in packaging that seems a little scary to me and make me think they cut it with testosterone even though the ingredient list did not say so.

Has anyone experiences with different brands? Are there any noticeable differences?
posted by redwaterman to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd seriously doubt that any company would add extra expensive hormones that they don't list in the ingredients (also putting testosterone in a pill makes it effectively an illegal steroid), but in any case, I'd stick to the classics, like Nodoz or Jetalert, for your pill-form caffeination needs.
posted by dis_integration at 1:19 PM on July 15

I have to think caffeine is a commodity, such that you can just choose 50mg or 100mg or whatever dosage you want from the store brands or whatever's cheapest. Marketing and package design are likely greater contributors to the price than the cost of ingredients. Regardless, everything should be listed on the label.
posted by rhizome at 1:46 PM on July 15

Some of them in packaging that seems a little scary to me and make me think they cut it with testosterone even though the ingredient list did not say so.

this absolutely does not happen or it would be posted a million times on trans male forums.

Regardless, everything should be listed on the label.

why do you think this? They're not FDA regulated. Even relatively innocuous vitamins have been found not to contain the ingredients they claim.
posted by AFABulous at 2:21 PM on July 15 [3 favorites]

anyway, testosterone does not necessarily give you more energy
posted by AFABulous at 2:22 PM on July 15

It's all about the mg. The ProLab 200mg tabs that Amazon sells for $8 do in fact contain 200mg of caffeine, I've gone through a number of those over the years, and found them to be consistent. I expect that pretty much any brand will have the dose it claims, and nothing else except pill binder.
posted by slagheap at 2:39 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]

I have used Jet Alert for years and had nothing but positive experiences. No Doz is fine, and works pretty much the same. I would be very surprised to find that the "flashy" brands are cut with anything, and stay away mostly for price reasons. In the end caffeine is pretty much caffeine, it works as advertised. If there was a "problem" with any of the brands, I would suspect it would be watering down the dosage for profit.
posted by Query at 3:05 PM on July 15

Plain old NoDoze or the store brand should be fine.

Canadian "supplements" are actually regulated and inspected, so if you're feeling super cautious, import something from Canada with a Natural Product Number (NPN). Totally legal/kosher. Getting "supplements" from the US into Canada is another matter. The US stuff has a even worse reputation than ones from China, of all places.

Database doesn't do instances, so just plug in Ingredient/Caffeine and it'll return all products with Caffeine as an active ingredient.

Check to see if there's other BS crap in the product like taurine or "amino acids" and avoid those.

The non-active ingredients are also listed so you could compare those too, if you want.

I've seen reagent-grade caffeine sold in bulk on eBay - a few pounds for, like, ten bucks? Depending on the manufacturer/distributor and how far i trust their analytical certificates (and either the synthesis or purification method) I'd be comfortable consuming that stuff orally.
posted by porpoise at 6:17 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]

It's all about the mg.

Sort of - back when I relied on these, I found that brands vary in the suspension used and that had knock-on effects on efficacy. No-Doz was the most consistent formulation, IMO. And, as others have pointed out - it's a barely regulated market, so caveat emptor and all that.

It may be that I have gotten delicate in my dotage, but I have found that natural sources (coffee/tea/etc) work better, are much less harsh, and come with a slower down.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:42 PM on July 15 [1 favorite]

Yes, formulation and bioavailability do matter, so it's worth comparing your personal experience between reputable brands.

There is also relatively decent evidence to suggest that theanine (L-theanine, more specifically) supplementation has a statistically better than placebo effect in increasing the effectiveness of caffeine as a cognitive performance enhancer, and some (to my understanding less robust) evidence that it can reduce subjective "jitteriness" from caffeine. I think it's worth investigating a low dose theanine supplement if you're considering using caffeine for wakefulness.
posted by howfar at 7:31 AM on July 16

My friend and I have used multiple different Canadian and US brands over the years, in order to help us with migraine control.

The one thing I did notice was that some US caffeine pills sometimes use lactose as a filler, which was a definite no-no for my lactose intolerant friend! So do have a close look at the list of active and non-active ingredients for additional "fillers".
posted by Jade Dragon at 7:47 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

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