If you’re feeling sleepy at your desk this afternoon, you may want to consider reaching for a cup of green tea instead of an Excedrin or NoDoz pill–and not just because antioxidant-rich green tea is a healthier way to get caffeine. The FDA announced a large-scale recall of some of Novartis Consumer Health, Inc.‘s biggest labels today, including Gas-X, Bufferin, and yes, those two pick-me-uppers. But if you’re a caffeine fiend who tends to get your fix from a tablet, perhaps this recall is a good time to re-assess.
The pills aren’t exactly dangerous–that’s not why they’re being recalled, and it would be disingenuous/a lie to say they that are. They’ve being recalled because of a potential mix-up that could have placed other, most powerful drugs (like Percocet) into these over-the-counter packages. If you suspect you may have one of the bunk bottles, check here to see if you’re entitled to a refund. But once you get it, it may be wise to spend the money on something else, because, let’s be honest, caffeine in a pill might not be your best option.
In moderation (which is defined as under 300 mg per day), caffeine consumption definitely has a its perks–like decreased risk of depression, and improved endurance during workouts. In fact, few of us at Blisstree would ever recommend (or consider) quitting caffeine. But when coupled with a painkiller or concentrated into a pill, like with Excedrin and NoDoz, the risk of potentially taking too much, or taking it too regularly, is much greater than when it’s found in, say, your morning latte.
Excedrine’s caffeine content is fairly mild, but can sometimes sneak up on people who don’t carefully read the label. An Excedrin tablet has less caffeine that a cup of coffee–just 65 mg per pill–but many people who are treating chronic headaches, menstrual cramps, and other aches and pains may take as many as 4 per day. Which is more than is recommended–and enough to get a person pretty close to their daily limit of caffeine.
NoDoz, however, is serious business. A single NoDoz tablet contains about 200 mg of caffeine per tablet, which the drug company bills as “about as much as a cup of coffee.” That isn’t strictly true–a 12 ounce cup of coffee has closer to 100 mg, as does a shot of espresso. Also, it’s kind of a lot to consume all at once, and if you take two throughout the day, you’ve already exceeded the recommended amount.
Caffeine by itself isn’t intrinsically unhealthy, but there are better ways to get it that with a pill like either of these drugs. Brew a cup of green tea, or treat yourself to a non-fat latte if you need a mid-afternoon boost, and you won’t have to worry that what you’re actually getting is a powerful prescription painkiller.