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Is Your Teenager’s Caffeine Consumption Too Much?

This article on adolescents and caffeine is part of a series on teenage nutrition. You can read the introduction to this series from these two articles “What Is On Your Family’s Breakfast Plate” and “Teenage Nutrition: Why You Should Pick This Battle For Your Adolescent.” We are very excited to bring you this and hope you feel comfortable to add your own thoughts, tips and suggestions.

When Should You Worry About Your Teenager’s Caffeine Consumption?

Sleep deprivation is a common issue among teenagers. To stay alert and awake many teens start drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks. If your child is staying up late to study for a test they may use caffeine to stay awake. Having a latte with friends can be part of a teen’s social outlet. Teens under pressure with schoolwork and balancing their time find caffeine helps to get through long days. But when should a parent start worrying that their child’s caffeine consumption is too much? In general, like any other food or drink, the ideal amount of caffeine consumption is moderation. Coffee and other caffeine stimulating drinks can produce side effects if over consumed. And too many caffeine rich drinks can take the place of healthier options your teen actually needs for proper growth and nutrition. The recommendation for teenagers is:  no more than 100 mg of caffeine/daily. Given that your average cup of coffee has 115 mg of caffeine, your teen may be over the limit.

Too much coffee and caffeine can:

  • Make the heart race
  • Make you feel jittery and on the edge
  • Pull calcium from the body
  • Be a diuretic
  • Take the place of other drinks and food that are healthier choices, such as water
  • Cause headaches
  • Cause problems to fall asleep at night and cause restless sleep
  • Cause concentration problems

If you see that your teenager is consuming high doses of caffeine and experiences one or more of the above side effects on a regular basis, it may be time to discuss their caffeine consumption issue.

Check out this list for caffeinated products to assess how much your teen may be consuming by clicking here.

Are There Health Benefits For Drinking Coffee and Caffeine Rich Drinks?

Small amounts of caffeine, in particular with teas or coffees, can be beneficial in small doses. Teenagers that drink a small amount of coffee or tea claim that it helps them stay alert and concentrated. However soft drinks can contain either high amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners, both of which should be avoided. Health benefits from caffeine are best taken from the more natural drinks: brewed coffee and teas. There has been much research done on coffee’s health benefits which you can read here. However, research on caffeine consumption has largely been done on adults. Teenagers are still growing and are not adults yet. In conclusion, a small amount of caffeine consumption in teens is most likely fine and may help teens stay alert. But we know that teens can overdo things. It is our role as parents to keep our teenager’s good health in check.

What about high energy drinks such as Red Bull?

Differently from coffee, high energy drinks can be dangerous. The amount of caffeine in energy drinks is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and can vary from small to very large amounts of caffeine. There have been deaths and medical emergencies in teenagers who over consumed these drinks or mixed them with alcohol. Plus, these drinks can contain other unregulated additives. It is estimated that one-third of teenagers drink high energy drinks. I label these high energy drinks as a type of drug in teens and would be very strict that my teenager would not consume these products. It is an important topic and important also to discuss these drinks with your children. Read the next article in this series on teenage nutrition on energy drinks and view the comment from Jim Shepherd, whose son died from drinking a high energy drink.

**New** If you want to read other articles in this series on teenage nutrition, click on the links here:

Teenagers and Energy Drinks, Teens and Endocrine Disruptors, Teens and Eating Disorders, Healthy Breakfast Ideas for TeensImportance of Good Nutrition in Teens, Vitamin and Mineral Supplements in Teens,Vegetarianism in Teens. and Hormone Changes in Teens Affect Their Smell.

Good luck with your teenager! Keep positive and strong. Please leave any comments or feedback in any social method you use.
Warmly, Mary


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7 Responses to Is Your Teenager’s Caffeine Consumption Too Much?

  1. ilene July 25, 2012 at 01:24 #

    I found this site having just had a major scare with my 17yrs old that I tried, albeit unsuccessfullly to get to the hospital. He was asleed when I entered his room, then he appeared wide awake but not making sense, rambling,sweating and most worryingly speaking about a TV programmes as though it was reality and he was in situ e.g. “see that’s what I was telling Will Smith”. He claims to have had conversations with me today when we were not even together. (I recorded most of the conversation and will replay it to him when the dust has settled)
    You see, during the past 18months, he has experienced night time wakefullness and now that he is on holiday from school, he is up all night and sleeping during the day. However he has now resorted to energy drinks to stay awake during the day. I have just found 4 bottles in his bin, so presumably consumed at home in recent days. On checking the cans, he has consumed a total of 1250ml; the sum caffeine content is 387mg. Of course he may have consumed more when out.

    After circa 45mins of me trying to engage and make sense of his ramblings (thoughout the episode he claimed that he was making perfect sense and I was simply not listening/understanding – it was all very clear to him – the problem rested with me). He finally ‘sobered’ up when the taxi arrived and I tried to get him to the hospital. He refused to go, became very angry and abusive. Claimed that he has just tired having not slept for 28 hours. He maintains reference to the TV programme was as a result of having watched an episode before falling asleep.(His explanations were plausible, but then he is v. intelligent) Also sited a splitting headache as reason not to leave the house notwitstanding the fact that he was now pacing up and down his room and shouting at me. I suggested that he might be seriously dehydrated, or suffering from mild sun-stroke but he would not budge. Apparently I was being ‘hysterical’ when actually I was deliberately outwardly very calm! In the end I had to let the taxi go and he is now asleep. Perhaps I over-reacted – but my instinct tells me that this should be followed up.

    • mbrighton July 25, 2012 at 05:42 #

      Hi ilene, i cannot imagine what you are going thru. How are you now? How is he? Thank you so much for being so open. Caffeine is okay in small quantities, but high doses of caffeine and energy drinks (like it appears your son is doing) can be fatal. You are a concerned mom, stay stong and vigilant. Let me know how things are going: you can respond here or my private email is :

  2. Claire March 20, 2012 at 11:53 #

    I wonder if caffeine consumption is actually that widespread ? Neither of my teens (15 & 17) drink tea or coffee whether at home or when out with friends. I never buy the energy drinks mentioned, although I can’t check what they drink when out with friends. I think the younger one (15) is still quite happy with the usual soft drinks or fruit juice, and the older one is at the stage where alcohol figures more prominently when out with his mates (so far he seems fairly reasonable about this !) – only soft drinks/fruit juice at home though.
    When they have friends at home (between them, this would be an average age range of 14 to 18), none ever go for tea or coffee, but again, I don’t know what they have elsewhere.
    My nephew (22) started drinking coffee about a year or so ago, but my niece (24) still doesn’t.
    Obviously I’m not saying that no teenagers drink tea or coffee, just that I don’t know any that do !! I’m sure other people will have a different experience of this, be interesting to compare.

    • mbrighton March 20, 2012 at 12:08 #

      Hi Claire, Thank you very much for your feedback. It is important to me. I did most of the research on caffeine consumption on American and English websites. I looked at websites written by adults geared towards the general community and I also read websites written by teenagers who drink coffee. Apparently caffeine consumption is quite widespread in these two countries. In America many teenagers work part-time in high school or have some job going on to earn money. I believe it is the same in the UK (although perhaps less percentage of teens work). Working, keeping up with grades and pressures of school, athletic and other extracurricular activities, the WIDESPREAD availability of caffeine rich soft drinks/coffee/tea at home and outside the home; all these lead to time constraints and the need to get a push from drink. Plus the stimulation of televisions and laptops in teens bedrooms and their mobile phones means that teens are constantly “switched on” and do not sleep enough. Saying this, my perception and what I have read could be wrong. I would love to hear the opinion on this subject from parents living around the world! PS- My son, 11 years old, LOVES to drink coffee (and cappuccino!) already. But, he only gets a cup every once in a while. I see that it can start a habit that is difficult to break. I can add, also, in America that many teens have disposable income because of their jobs and some of this money is probably spent on these HUGE supersized drinks from WAWA and other convenience stores. Am I wrong? Let me know…


  1. Teens May Get More Than A Boost After Drinking High Energy Drinks | brightonyourhealth - April 2, 2012

    […] to fit everything into their time schedule. In the previous article from this series,  “Is Your Teenager’s Caffeine Consumption Too Much?” we mentioned that some teens, especially those who are sleep deprived, use caffeine rich […]

  2. Riley Martin - March 21, 2012

    Is Your Teenager's Caffeine Consumption Too Much …: Sleep deprivation in teens can increase their caffeine con…

  3. Suzanne Saxe-R, Ed.D - March 19, 2012

    RT @mbrighton66 Is Your Teenager’s Caffeine Consumption Too Much?: Sleep deprivation in teens can increase their…

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