Anhydrous Caffeine Vs. Caffeine

Caffeine is one of the few substances in food that is also considered a drug. Caffeine is found in a variety of drinks such as coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks, as well as in cocoa. It is also present in chocolate, and both prescription and non-prescription medications. Anhydrous caffeine is one form of caffeine.

A woman is drinking a cup of coffee. (Image: Dragan Radojevic/iStock/Getty Images)

About Caffeine

Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant. According to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois, caffeine is habit-forming, rather than addictive, and if a person who regularly drinks or eats caffeine stops suddenly, symptoms such as headache or fatigue can result. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine, and even relatively small doses can affect them. The International Society of Sports Nutrition states that anhydrous caffeine is more effective in enhancing performance than coffee in trained athletes who use low to moderate doses. It is beneficial for extended, exhaustive exercise and time-trial performance, and for high intensity exercise such as soccer or rugby, but not for strength-power performance such as weight lifting.

Anhydrous Caffeine

Anhydrous caffeine is simply dehydrated caffeine – anhydrous means "without water." It is available in pill or tablet form, or as a soluble powder. Anhydrous caffeine is found in a number of non-prescription medications such as Vivarin and No-Doze. According to Drugs.com, these medications contain 200 mg of anhydrous caffeine per tablet. A cup of coffee may contain 40 mg to 180 mg, depending on how it is brewed. Tea varies from 20 mg to 90 mg per 8 oz. cup. Cola and other soft drinks contain 36 mg to 90 mg in 12 oz., and bittersweet chocolate has 25 mg of caffeine per ounce.

It's The Same Thing

Although anhydrous caffeine may be more convenient than coffee or other forms of caffeinated beverages since it can be carried in a purse, suitcase or pocket, there is no difference chemically between anhydrous and regular caffeine. Anhydrous caffeine does provide a standard dose; brewed drinks can vary according to the amount of water used, brewing time or method.

Considerations and Warnings

Caffeine is generally recognized as safe when consumed in moderate amounts; in large doses it can cause sleeplessness. Drugs.com recommends women who are pregnant should limit caffeine intake to 300 mg or three cups of coffee a day due to the risk of miscarriage and because it may limit growth of the fetus. Women who are breastfeeding should also limit caffeine intake to one or two cups a day and should avoid taking over-the-counter caffeine medications due to the possible effect on the baby.

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