A coffee cup full of coffee beans and sitting on a coffee bean pile

Natural Caffeine vs. Synthetic Caffeine: Which Is Best for Me?

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A coffee cup full of coffee beans and sitting on a coffee bean pile

Some people say that a bad day with coffee is a lot more preferable to experiencing a great day without it. And even if you don’t drink coffee, you may understand that we are alluding to the primary ingredient in coffee:

Caffeine.

The typical 8-ounce cup of coffee has anywhere between 70 to 140 milligrams of caffeine in it, but the average is about 95 milligrams. For context, the volume of 40+ pennies weighs about 95 milligrams. 

The FDA recommends that you consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine daily. And that is the equivalent of four or five cups of coffee.

Don’t drink coffee? That is ok - there are many products that you consume regularly but may be unaware of containing caffeine. 

One cup of tea contains about 47 milligrams of caffeine.

And decaffeinated coffee is not really caffeine-free. An 8-ounce cup of decaf contains anywhere between three to seven milligrams of caffeine.

A can of soda contains 40 to 55 milligrams of caffeine. 

Caffeine supplement pills contain as much as 200 milligrams of caffeine.

Do you consume any energy drinks that contain guarana as the main ingredient? Guarana is a plant that has as much as four times more caffeine than an average coffee plant. Some energy drinks might contain as much as 85 to 500 milligrams of caffeine. 

A one-ounce piece of dark chocolate might contain 24 milligrams of caffeine.

Some of your favorite over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers contain caffeine. Caffeine helps to reduce inflammation of blood vessels in small and targeted amounts in conjunction with pain medication.

Still, too much caffeine is never a good thing. And depending on what you consume, you may actually be consuming natural or synthetic caffeine.

So, which is better for you - natural or synthetic caffeine? Is there a difference?

Breinfuel is a cerebral beverage made with all-natural ingredients that enhances focus to make you a mental athlete. Try it today and get 10% off on your first order.

Related: Why are Antioxidants so Important?

What Is Natural Caffeine?

No one knows when the first coffee plants were discovered. Scientists believe that coffee plants were first cultivated in ancient Ethiopia sometime between the 4th and 12th centuries.

However, the natural stimulant form of caffeine can be found in over 60 different species of plants worldwide. And these plants that are naturally infused with caffeine include, but are not limited to;

  • Coffee
  • Cacao 
  • Kola nuts
  • Yerba mate leaves
  • Yoco bark
  • Guarana berries
  • Tea plants 
  • Guayusa

The yaupon holly is the only plant naturally infused with caffeine that grows in the United States.

So, why is it called “natural” caffeine? To extract caffeine from natural plant sources, you must heavily process seeds, berries, bark, roots, and other plant components. 

To extract the natural sources of caffeine, you may need to separate plant elements, grind them, roast them, dry them, and so on.

And such processing is an expensive and time-exhaustive process when considering how popular coffee is worldwide.

What Is Synthetic Caffeine?

A bottle of synthetic caffeine

Caffeine anhydrous, also known as synthetic caffeine, is a mass-produced non-natural caffeine created in a laboratory.

Synthetic coffee was first conceptualized sometimes in the 1800s. The synthetic coffee that we commonly use today was first developed by the Nazis during WWII to compensate for coffee shortages.

Synthetic coffee is synthesized by chemically processing ammonia. A chemist will chemically convert ammonia into urea. (Urea is one of the components in human urine)

Then, chloroacetic acid is combined with the urea to convert it into a chemical called uracil. 

The uracil is then converted into theophylline. Methyl chloride is then combined with it to create the end product, methylated theophylline, or the chemical name for synthetic caffeine. 

But there is more chemical processing. Newly processed synthetic caffeine gives off an unnatural bluish glow. 

So, the freshly created synthetic coffee will be chemically rinsed with additional chemicals like acetic acid, sodium carbonate, sodium nitrate, and chloroform to negate and remove the unnatural blue, glowing radiance.

Natural Caffeine vs. Synthetic Caffeine: A Comparison

Chemically speaking, natural and synthetic caffeine is virtually identical. 

But that is where the similarities end. 

Synthetic caffeine is chemically designed to provide you with an instant energy boost. Natural caffeine must be digested, and it takes time to produce its well-known effects. And you will have to drink many cups of coffee to produce the similar effects of smaller amounts of synthetic caffeine.

It is expensive and time-consuming harvesting and processing plants with natural caffeine. 

Companies and manufacturers save a lot of money on sourcing and production costs by using synthetic caffeine in their products. 

Too much caffeine, whether natural or synthetic, can be deadly. You would have to consume over 100 cups of coffee, or the equivalent of 10 grams of natural caffeine, within several hours for it to become toxic and threaten your life. 

People affected by caffeine toxicity must endure a gradual detox program similar to ones for illegal drugs.

A small amount of synthetic caffeine is potent. Ingesting more than two tablespoons of freshly processed synthetic caffeine would be lethal. 

Products that naturally contain caffeine, like coffee or tea, do not need to list caffeine on their list of ingredients. Any product that adds caffeine to its product during the manufacturing and processing phase must list “caffeine” on its ingredient lists.

Unless the manufacturer plainly lists “natural caffeine” on its label, then any product that says “caffeine” on its ingredient list probably contains synthetic caffeine.

Consuming natural caffeine in large amounts can make you unable to sleep, overly anxious, jittery, and increase blood pressure, amongst other medical concerns. 

Synthetic caffeine can cause the same problems, but because synthetic caffeine is absorbed in the body quicker, the lethargic and energy-draining crash hits harder later.

Is Natural Caffeine Better for You?

Consuming products that contain natural caffeine are better for health for several reasons.

They Have Similar Effects

Even though natural and synthetic caffeine have the same bodily effects, you would have to drink over 100 cups of coffee to experience caffeine toxicity.

Although rare, there have been reported cases of people dying from caffeine toxicity due to over-consuming products with synthetic caffeine.

In 2017, a 16-year-old boy from South Carolina died of a heart attack after consuming over 400 milligrams of caffeine from an energy drink, soda, and a latte within two hours.

Foods With Natural Caffeine Are More Nutrient-Rich

Foods with natural caffeine are nutrient-rich. Synthetic caffeine is synthesized from ammonia and has no natural nutrients.

Natural caffeine contains antioxidants and nutrients like manganese, potassium, magnesium, and several types of B vitamins.

Natural Caffeine May Have Fewer Harmful Compounds

Natural caffeine does not contain harmful chemical compounds like ammonia, urea, or chloroform. And natural caffeine does not have a blueish glow.

Which Caffeine Source is Best for You?

The chances are that you probably consume large quantities of synthetic caffeine every week. Double-check the ingredients list of the most common products you consume.

When ingested in small amounts, synthetic caffeine is not a health problem. However, that does not negate the fact that it is made by chemically altering ammonia.

Natural caffeine has natural nutrients and does feature harmful chemicals. When possible, try to consume products with natural caffeine which contain the phrase “natural caffeine” on their ingredients list.

Foods and Drinks With the Most Natural Caffeine

Shards of dark chocolate on a table

Chocolate, coffee, tea, coffee-infused foods like Tiramisu, and the South American Yerba mate drink contain a lot of natural caffeine.

And you will find a lot of natural caffeine in the energy drink and cerebral beverage Breinfuel. 

Breinfuel products will never contain synthetic caffeine.

Breinfuel contains natural ingredients that will enhance your cognitive focus and make you a mental athlete.

Try Breinfuel today and get a 10%-off discount on your first order. 

Related: The Best Sources for Your Caffeine!