Are Your Kids Drinking Too Much Caffeine?

By July 14, 2023Health Tips

Energy drinks are now very popular with teenagers and even some younger kids, in part due to social media bad influencers. Recently, the FDA has been asked to investigate one energy drink called “Prime” because of its extremely high caffeine levels, based on concerns that they contain more caffeine than is safe for child consumption. Today we will talk about the recommended caffeine intake for different age groups and the risks associated with too much caffeine intake, particularly for children and teenagers.

Are Your Kids Drinking Too Much Caffeine?How much caffeine is too much?
  • Children younger than 12 should have no caffeine. There is no proven safe dose of caffeine for children.
  • Adolescents aged 12-18 should limit their intake to 100 mg per day.
  • Adults should limit caffeine to 400 mg per day at most. Adults should drink less caffeine if they have side effects or any adverse reaction to caffeine.
  • Women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding should limit their caffeine intake to less than 200 mg per day.
How much caffeine is in typical drinks?
The actual caffeine content in beverages varies widely, especially among energy drinks. Here are some examples of approximate caffeine content:
  • Coffee – about 100 mg of caffeine per 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee
  • Cola – about 40 mg per 12 ounces
  • Tea – Black tea contains about 40-75 mg per 8 ounces, often depending on how long it is steeped. Green tea contains only about 15-30 mg per cup.
  • Energy drinks – Prime Energy contains the most caffeine (200 mg in a 12 ounce can), Red Bull (80 mg per 8.4 ounce can), Monster (160 mg per 16 ounce can)
  • Caffeine in powder or liquid form can provide toxic levels of caffeine. Just one teaspoon of powdered caffeine is equivalent to 28 cups of coffee.
  • Decaffeinated drinks can contain 10-20 mg of caffeine per 8-ounces.
What are the side effects or adverse reactions to caffeine?
At any age, overconsumption of caffeine can cause:
  • Insomnia and sleep deprivation
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Nausea and lack of appetite
  • Headaches
  • Heart racing and/or palpitations
  • Muscle tremors or twitches
  • Dizziness
  • Frequent urination and/or loss of bladder control
  • Very high levels of caffeine intake can cause more serious health problems, including cardiac arrest and death.
How does caffeine affect sleep? Why is that important?
Caffeine is a stimulant and can interfere with your sleep, particularly if you drink it in the afternoon or evening. Even small amounts of sleep loss can add up and impact your alertness and ability to concentrate, focus, or perform tasks during the day.
Many adolescents and adults use caffeine to mask sleep deprivation. This can create a viscous cycle. If you drink caffeinated beverages because you are sleepy during the day, that same caffeine keeps you from falling asleep at night, shortening the length of time you sleep, thus making you sleepier the next day, so you drink more caffeine to stay awake!
Sleep is critical during the teenage years when adolescents undergo significant physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development. The optimal amount of sleep for teens between the ages of 13-18 is around 8-10 hours a night. Most of them are not getting enough sleep.
The consequences of losing sleep are potentially serious and can impact a teen’s mood, physical health, and school performance. Loss of sleep can cause symptoms that mimic Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Memory, attention, and focus are highly impacted by loss of sleep.
Next week, we will talk more about the effects of caffeine, including interactions with other substances, and how to cut back or help your teen cut back on caffeine intake.
If you have any questions about caffiene, please log into your account and send us your question. We are here to help.

Dr. Anita Bennett MD – Health Tip Content Editor

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