How Much Caffeine is Too Much for Teens?
Energy drinks, coffee, tea, and other caffeinated beverages have become a normal part of every teenager’s diet. The need for constant energy to keep them powered throughout the day has led to a fierce dependence on the drug known as caffeine. As kids and teens guzzle another Monster to get through their fourth homework assignment, one might begin to ponder just how much caffeine is too much?
The Lowdown on Caffeine
Classified as a stimulant, caffeine is a naturally occurring drug that invigorates the central nervous system. It was found during a study by American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that 1-3 cups of coffee a day can lower the risk of heart failure and decrease the chance of diabetes in healthy individuals. Moderate consumption can even boost cognitive abilities and ward off Alzheimer’s, suggests the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee.
According to sources like Dr. Axe and the Mayo Clinic, the point at which caffeine becomes problematic for healthy adults is at 400 milligrams (mg) —roughly the amount in 4 cups of coffee. More than 500-600 mg a day could result in side effects like:
- Hallucinations or Confusion
- Tachycardia (Racing heartbeat)
- Muscle tremors
- Negative impact on hormonal levels, with a chance of increased PMS symptoms
But what about for kids and young adults? The Mayo Clinic states that over 100 mg of caffeine (about 3 cans of Coke) per day is too much for the youth. In fact, kids 12 years old and younger probably should not be given more than 85 mg (1-2 cans of Coke).
Effects of a Teenager’s Body
Moderating your teenager’s caffeine intake is important because they are susceptible to caffeine intoxication. More so than you age. Teenagers need more sleep than adults do (at least 8 hours), better nutrition, and are at a pivotal point in their development when messing up their hormonal levels is not beneficial.
Teenagers are prone to not only drinking and eating their caffeine throughout the day, they might be offered a caffeine pill or get too much for a pre-workout supplement before an exam or competitive sports game. Not only could this lead to severe caffeine poisoning, it could result in death. Adolescents and teens already have a heart rate that is 3-8 beats faster than the older adults, so image what happens to the heart when it gets a shot of pure caffeine.
Also, because caffeine is a drug, it has highly addictive qualities. The last thing any parent wants is for their child to be addicted to drugs, right? Suddenly forbidding your teen from caffeine may result in symptoms of withdrawal.
How to Approach the Caffeine Conundrum
Now that you are probably calculating just how much the teenagers in your life are drinking, you may be thinking about how to talk to them about the dangerous of misuse and overdosing. Here is how to talk to them about it:
- Recognize how much you drink a day and consider what behaviors you are modeling;
- Get educated about caffeine, such as how much is in the food and drinks around the pantry;
- Talk to your kids the same way you discuss alcohol or heroin;
- Stay vigilant for signs of too much caffeine consumption (sleep disturbances, accelerated heart rate, palpitations, weight loss)
Coffee, tea, and energy drinks are no doubt delicious and fantastic at picking you up throughout the day. However, when reliance on that energy burst becomes an overload, caffeine can be just as dangerous as any other drug out there. Remember: Just because it is natural does not make caffeine completely benign!