3 Things to Know About Kids and Caffeine

For many adults, that morning cup of coffee is a necessity.  However, you may be surprised to learn that approximately 75 percent of children, adolescents and young adults in the United States also consume caffeine.  Because caffeine is common in coffee, tea and soda, kids and teens may unintentionally consume large amounts of caffeine on a regular basis.  Here, we will address what to keep in mind when setting limits on caffeine.   
           
1) Caffeine affects kids differently.  Caffeine in large doses can cause irritability, anxiety, rapid heart rate and elevated blood pressure.  It also impairs the body’s ability to absorb calcium, an especially important function in growing kids and teens.  Because of caffeine’s ability to help one feel focused and work more efficiently, teens with a heavy academic responsibility may turn to coffee and soda on purpose to improve concentration at school and while studying.  This can backfire, especially if consumed closer to bedtime, leading to poor sleep. 
 
2) Guidelines for consumption.  The Food and Drug Administration has not set guidelines for caffeine consumption.  The Canadian government recommends the following daily limits for children and adolescents:
                       
                        Age 4-6: 45 mg, about one can of soda
                        Age 7-9: 62 mg
                        Age 10-12: 85 mg.
           
            For an idea of how much caffeine is in some common foods and beverages, please see the below chart:
 

3) Alternatives.  Of course, candies and drinks with added caffeine, such as energy drinks, should always be avoided.  If your child is lacking energy, try an earlier bedtime or a brisk walk outside.  Yoga and meditation will also help with focus and concentration, and by helping your child relax, can contribute to better sleep.
 
Make an appointing with our Dietitian, Andrea Berez, for you and your child.
 
Andrea Berez, MS, RD, CSP
Kara Unal JD, RYT
KareBoost Health