Belgian authorities recall 'study pill' over excess caffeine and vitamin B6 levels

By Will Chu

- Last updated on GMT

Belgium’s Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) is warning consumers not to consume a food supplement after tests reveal its caffeine and vitamin B6 levels exceed recommended levels.

The Agency identify the product​ as “Studeerpil” (pills for studying), a Dutch-made product in sachet form that is available from a number of various Dutch websites offering delivery to Belgium.

At the time of writing, the study pill has not been recalled in the Netherlands and is still available from the Dutch product makers Brainrush and its website.

FASFC point to the food supplement’s label that states the caffeine content per recommended daily dose is 320-380 milligrams per day (mg/day) with a maximum of four pills per day advised.

However, the standard set for dietary supplements is 80 mg/day of caffeine.

Further product inconsistencies extend to the supplement’s vitamin B6 content with two capsules of the product said to contain 10mg of vitamin B6.

“A maximum of four capsules per day is recommended in which 20 mg of vitamin B6 per day can be consumed,”​ said FASFC.

“However, the standard for vitamin B6 in dietary supplements is 6mg /day. Increased vitamin B6 intake can lead to memory problems.”

Dutch chain Kruidvat

Previously available in the Belgium branches of Dutch retail chain Kruidvat, Studeerpil is the brainchild of Dutch students, who launched the product back in 2016.

As well as caffeine and vitamin B6, the product also contains the plant Rhodiola Rosea, which claims to reduce fatigue and exhaustion as well as play a possible role in combating neurological disorders.

Other ingredients include Acetyl-L-carnitine, L-Theanine, N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine and Mucuna pruriens, which contains the substance L-DOPA, an amino acid used in addressing Parkinson's disease.

According to local media​, the Belgian variant of the pill does not contain L-Theanine, vitamin B6 and Mucuna pruriens.

FASC said that it was possible that in addition to the Studeerpil, consumers could exceed the recommended daily limit, if they also consume other products containing caffeine or vitamin B6, such as coffee or energy drinks (caffeine) or cereals, whole rice, avocados and bananas (vitamin B6).

The FASFC added that consumers should be aware that online shopping abroad was not always safe.

Not evidence-backed

Talking to Belgium news website VRT NWS​, Dr Marleen Finoulst, editor in chief of Bodytalk, said it was unfeasible to confirm such a pill could improve study performance.

She added that current law only needed to prove that the supplement was safe before it became commercially available and that it could not harm health. "That does not mean that it also has a positive effect,” ​she added. “It is possible that such pills have a placebo effect."

Toxicologist Jan Tytgat added that while certain pill ingredients could have a beneficial effect on focus, the blend could not be backed up by science, adding that there was “no evidence this pill would lead to better performance”.

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