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How Much Caffeine in That Supplement? Hard to Tell
Date:1/8/2013

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds that popular supplement pills and powders found for sale at many military bases, including those that claim to boost energy and control weight, often fail to properly describe their caffeine levels.

Some of these products -- also sold at health-food stores across the county -- didn't provide any information about caffeine on their labels despite being packed with it, and others had more or much less caffeine than their labels indicated.

"Fewer than half of the supplements had accurate and useful information about caffeine on the label," said study lead author Dr. Pieter Cohen, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "If you're looking for these products to help ... your performance, some aren't going to work and you're going to be disappointed. And some have much more caffeine than on the label."

Researchers launched the study, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, to add to existing knowledge about how much caffeine is being consumed by members of the military. Athletes and members of the military, they said, face a risk of health problems when they consume too much caffeine and exercise in the heat.

Cohen emphasized that the supplements were purchased in civilian stores: "Why is it that 25 percent of the products labels with caffeine had inaccurate information at a mainstream supplement retailer?"

He also explained the specific military concern.

"We already know that troops are drinking a lot of coffee and using a lot of energy drinks and shots," Cohen said. "Forty-five percent of active troops were using energy drinks on a daily basis while they were in Afghanistan and Iraq. We're talking about large amounts of caffeine consumed, and our question is: What's going on on top of that?"

In the worst-case scenario, people could become jittery and even develop rapid heartbeats i
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