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I've recently decided to give up my morning coffee in lieu of a caffeine pill. Both are around 200mg (my Tim Horton's XL 4x4 was 240 mg of caffeine) of caffeine. We were talking about the various impacts this has on my body (for example, I now need a different source of the whopping 680 calories the beverage used to give me) and one thing that came up was that the caffeine pill would be more damaging to my liver.

I was resistant to their claims, since they were simply basing it off what they heard in college from various health advisers, but three people from different backgrounds all concurred that the pills would be more harmful to my liver in spite of the the fact that there's a decreased quantity.

The points to their argument were:

  1. The concentration of caffeine pills is greater than that of the coffee.
  2. The caffeine in the pill is synthetic, and thus harder for the liver to process.

My counter to those points were that the tablet takes longer to dissolve than the coffee which I'd expect go straight into my bloodstream. (And in fact, I notice it takes longer to get the kick from the pill, and it lasts longer, which would be consistent with my counterpoint). As far as synthetic, I was under the impression a chemical is a chemical, that's what's so great about chemicals.

I understand that changing from coffee to pills will have some sideeffects (less antioxidants, a need to replace the sugars I had before, etc). But my question isn't around those - it's specifically around whether the effects on the organs (emphasis on the liver) are different when caffeine in similar dosages is delivered via a pill as opposed to a brewed liquid. Other comments (as opposed to answers) are welcome, as I would not blindly ignore wise consul, but I would appreciate if answers focused on the question.

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  • $\begingroup$ For your body it makes no difference where the caffeine comes from. It works in the usual way. $\endgroup$ – Chris Feb 9 '16 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ The caffeine in the pill is synthetic, and thus harder for the liver to process: caffeine is caffeine, so that myth can be dropped from the question. The thing here is pharmacokinetics. Perhaps the pill takes longer, or shorter to be absorbed, that may, or may not affect liver function. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Feb 9 '16 at 22:09

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