Since you’re a health-conscious woman, you may avoid caffeinated beverages – or you may look for ones that contain “natural” caffeine. This sounds great. But you might be horrified to find out that “natural” caffeine isn’t always what you think it is.
It’s true that some natural caffeine comes from plants. This is the caffeine you want. Green tea, for example, has natural caffeine that’s actually good for you. But some so-called natural caffeine doesn’t come from plants. In fact, a lot of caffeine comes from a laboratory, where researchers make it out of petroleum. And yet, they still label it “natural.” Yes, oil comes from the earth and it’s natural. But do you really want to eat it?
Of course, the caffeine in beverages doesn’t contain crude oil. But the researchers make this “natural” caffeine from petroleum-derived molecular building blocks. With these building blocks, they can make a slight variation of the carbon isotopes found in caffeine.
While the FDA does require beverage companies to list caffeine on the label, it doesn’t require the companies to label whether the caffeine comes from natural or synthetic sources. So a group of researchers set out to determine whether these “naturally” caffeinated drinks used the synthetic type of caffeine or truly natural caffeine.
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The scientists used a technique called stable-isotope analysis to determine the type of caffeine used in various drinks. They found that the four products they tested contained synthetic caffeine, despite carrying a “natural” label.
If you really want to make sure your drink contains no synthetic caffeine, only buy beverages marked “organic.” And if your supplements have caffeine, such as Green Tea Extract, make sure they use caffeine from plants, not petroleum.
Your voice of reason in Women's Health,
Dr. Janet Zand
ScienceDaily, March 7, 2012.