Spilling the Beans About Your Child & Caffeine
After consuming two 24-ounce Monster energy drinks, a 14-year-old Maryland girl went into cardiac arrest while at home. Six days later, the teenager died at the hospital and the official cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity. These two large energy drinks contain the equivalent amount of caffeine found in fourteen 12-ounce cans of Coca Cola.
The FDA regulates the amount of caffeine found in soda, but fails to regulate caffeine levels in energy drinks because they are not classified as “food products”, but rather as “dietary supplements.” Therefore, teenagers are unaware of how much caffeine they are consuming when it comes to these energy drinks because there are no regulations on disclosing that information on the labels.
The FDA doesn’t currently provide guidelines for caffeine consumption for kids. However, the Canadian government has recommended no more than 45 milligrams of caffeine a day for children between 4-6 years old. Other research indicates that teenagers should limit their daily caffeine intake to 100 milligrams.
Children are typically bursting with energy, naturally, and to consume excessive levels of caffeine can impact mood and energy levels, thus disturbing their daily academic performance in the classroom. Exorbitant caffeine consumption poses serious problems and dangerous risks for a child. Like adults, children can experience the following side effects from consistent caffeine overload:
- Increased heart rate,
- Increased blood pressure,
- Becoming jittery, irritable, shaky or anxious,
- Difficulty getting a good night’s sleep,
- Becoming dehydrated,
- Difficulty focusing on a task,
- Increased acid release in the stomach causing heartburn.
- Causes a physical dependence or addiction where the child can experience withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly cease using caffeine (e.g. dizziness, headaches, etc.)
“Away from the caffeine” alternatives for your child:
- Even though there isn’t any substantial evidence that demonstrates caffeine as a contributor to stunting the growth of children, consuming soda, caffeinated tea, coffee or energy drinks may result in a leaching of calcium which can lead to bone loss. The source of most caffeine for children comes from soda, which also contains a high amount of sugar and contributes to our global childhood obesity pandemic. Replace the soda with water, milk or 100% fruit juice. This will also help lower the chances of your child getting cavities or tooth decay.
- Once in a while, treat your child with a cup of hot chocolate. The caffeine content in a 5 oz. cup of hot cocoa is between 1-8 mg as compared to a 12 oz. can of Coca Cola which has 64 mg.
- When your child feels tired, encourage him/her to drink more water and/or get some rest, instead of chugging a caffeinated beverage.
- Make physical activity a part of your child’s daily routine as exercise naturally increases your child’s energy levels.
Be a part of this interactive community designed for both adults and children to discuss real issues pertaining to today’s youth, along with practical solutions for any of today’s unique challenges. For more information on helping a child obtain overall SUPER HEALTH, please visit: www.doughaddad.com.
Douglas Haddad, is a clinical nutritionist, full-time public school teacher in Connecticut and the author of parenting/child guidance book Save Your Kids…Now! The Revolutionary Guide To Helping Youth Conquer Today’s Challenges and co-author of Top Ten Tips For Tip Top Shape: Super Health Programs For All Professional Fields.
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This post originally appeared on our May/June 2013 Magazine