Caffeine supplements are stimulants that do possess cognitive benefits which are thought to enhance energy, concentration, memory and certain brain functions.
What are Caffeine Supplements?
Caffeine supplements are stimulants and are not “technically” a Nootropic. They do, however, have many recorded Nootropic cognitive effects on improving alertness, concentration, focus and brain function and are considered the most widely used, legal, pyschoactive drug.
They are commonly stacked or used together with other Nootropics to enhance their effects and are especially popular taken with L-theanine.
Caffeine is a xanthine alkaloid compound, which means it acts to prevent sleepiness and increase short-term alertness in the central nervous system.
This naturally occurring compound is found in over 60 plants including cocoa beans and tea and in many food products including energy drinks, soft drinks and many others.
In some cases, Caffeine supplements are blended with minerals or vitamins to further reduce fatigue, enhancing energy levels, concentration and even fat metabolism.
For these reasons, Caffeine pills are the most widely used stimulant among athletes.
Caffeine Supplement Effects
In our natural everyday cycle, the brain produces and slowly releases a chemical called adenosine. This prevents the central nervous system from excitation. This chemical binds to receptors and causes drowsiness and the eventual state of deep sleep.
These receptors cannot define the difference between caffeine and adenosine, which both target the same receptors. So when caffeine is present in the system, it will dominate and attach to them instead of adenosine.
Adenosine works to reduce a chemical called Dopamine in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that is associated with positive reinforcement, mood, motivation and pleasure. The brain cannot detect any adenosine when Caffeine is present, so the release of dopamine becomes increased.
There are quite a few cognitive benefits associated with caffeine as well. Naturally, when we are more alert and awake, cognitive functions such as concentration, attention span and focus become enhanced.
They also work to speed up neural firing, which the pituitary gland responds to and creates adrenaline and this gives us energy.
Benefits of Caffeine Supplements
Caffeine pills in low doses are relatively harmless. These supplements are used for many different reasons including enhancing alertness, concentration, more energy during the day, physical performance and even weight loss, where they seem to help curb your appetite.
It is also thought that caffeine combined with carbohydrates may improve the energy storage in the cells of the muscles and the liver, enhancing energy levels and increasing output for people who exercise frequently.
Some studies have also indicated that caffeine has beneficial effects for people who suffer from asthma, aiding in opening up airways and for people who get frequent headaches.
For your brain, caffeine is mostly used to increase mental alertness and even memory. When receptors are targeted, neurotransmitters are stimulated and speed up the signals they send between the neurons.
Effects of caffeine with a regular cup of coffee are very short lived and reduce by your second cup. We build up tolerance to it and eventually it becomes less effective throughout the day. However, the benefits of caffeine are still present whether you drink it or supplement it.
Also, there seems to be some reports that suggest caffeine may protect against memory declining conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Research is still ongoing, however, this may suggest that caffeine may be a potential protector of neuronal structure.
As a Nootropic, caffeine helps us to stay alert, effects our moods, reduces fatigue, enhances physical performance, memory function and cognition.
Caffeine Supplement Side effects
Caffeine pills are well tolerated and safe however long term excessive use can cause some side effects. When used in small amounts, side effects are rare but include;
- increased breathing
The half life of a caffeine supplement is approximately 6 hours. Taking more than 300mg a day (equivalent to 3-4 cups of coffee) is not recommended because it still remains in your system during that period of time. This will affect your ability to sleep and cause restlessness.
Also, there is a concern that you can build a tolerance to caffeine which will increase depression and fatigue when the effects wear off.
People have different tolerance levels to caffeine. This substance is considered GRAS (generally regarded as safe) by the FDA. The best option is to stay under 300mg a day.
It can also be cycled with other Nootropics so you don’t build up a tolerance to it.
If you have any concerns, please contact your doctor.
As mentioned before, caffeine supplements are often stacked with other Nootropics. Stacking means taking different Nootropics together to either enhance the effects or supplement them. The reason why this is done is because each Nootropic has different effects.
A common combination is stacking caffeine with L-theanine. Combining these two are believed to work well together. L-theanine relaxes you while caffeine keeps you alert without the possibility of the jitters that it caffeine may have on it’s own.