A man died the day before his 22nd birthday after ingesting too much caffeine from a supplement, his family has said.
Lachlan Foote, from New South Wales, Australia, went out on New Year's Eve 2018. He had a few beers with friends – an autopsy would later reveal he hadn't drunk much at all – before returning home to sleep. Before going to bed, he made himself a protein shake in an attempt to stave off a hangover.
"I think my protein powder has gone off. Just made an anti-hangover / workout shake and it tasted awful," he wrote to his friends, according to his father. “Anyway… night lads. Cya in the morning.”
Lachlan did not wake up the next morning. His body was found the next day by his parents on New Year's Day. After an autopsy, the family finally has some answers as to why Lachlan died.
"While I don’t wish to keep raising the subject of Lachlan’s death on Facebook, I’m posting this because there’s a possibility it might save someone’s life," Lachlan's father Nigel wrote on Facebook on Sunday.
"Dawn and I have finally received the Coroner’s findings regarding Lachlan – he died of ‘caffeine toxicity’ (not from a dodgy batch of protein powder as we had first thought).
"It turns out that Lachlan came home after celebrating New Year’s Eve with his friends and made a protein shake, innocently adding too much Pure Caffeine Powder – a teaspoon is lethal (the equivalent of 25-50 coffees)."
The family believes that Lachlan got the caffeine powder from a colleague or friend, as searches by the family and police revealed no purchases of the powder by Lachlan himself.
"It’s very likely that Lachlan never got to read the warning label on the packet and was unaware of its potency. And the fact that he kept the caffeine powder in our kitchen pantry (where one of us might have mistaken it for flour or sugar) proves the point – Lachlan would never have kept it there had he known it was a threat to the family. He was a bright, imaginative young man."
Milder caffeine overdoses can result in anything from disorientation to breakdown of skeletal muscle tissue, hallucinations, or mania. Larger overdoses – usually associated with ingesting too much caffeine from supplements – can result in death. The dose required for this to occur is around the equivalent of 17-100 cups of coffee for a 70-kilogram (150-pound) adult.
In 2018 doctors reported the case of a 32-year-old woman who sought hospital treatment after accidentally ingesting 5,000 milligrams of caffeine in a pre-workout supplement. Having made it to the emergency room within half an hour of the overdose, she was treated with intravenous propranolol and survived the ordeal, being discharged five days later.
"I’m not going to go on a crusade about caffeine powder," Nigel ended his post. "But I do want to warn Lachlan’s friends and the Blue Mountains community… PLEASE SHARE."