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 Teens, Importance 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.