Coffee, tea, sodas and energy drinks are all sources of caffeine, a bitter substance which stimulates the central nervous system. The effect of caffeine depends on the quantity consumed. It has a positive effect making any individual at any age feel more alert, energetic or awake when consumed in small doses while over consumption of the substance leads to irritability, impaired calcium metabolism, anxiety, rapid heart rate, elevated blood pressures and sleep problems. Many children, adolescents and young adults have increased caffeine intake with the United States leading the charts with approximately 75 percent of kids in this age group habituated to caffeine consumption. Over-caffeinated kids sleep for the least number of hours.
Parents indulge in rendering excessive amounts of caffeine to children as they are unaware of the high caffeine concentration in beverages such as teas and colas, these drinks being very commonly consumed across the population. These drinks do not contribute as healthy diet foods and should be substituted with more nutritious choices. Check out www.firsteatright.com for healthy alternatives to caffeine drinks.
Pediatric specialists report that some teens find caffeine aiding them with better performance in school and exams. The more the academic burden for your kid, the more he/she may increase the intake of caffeine-containing foods or beverages for improved focus and late-night studies. But this leads to irregular sleep patterns in these children as they drink caffeine to fight off sleep and later face trouble falling asleep again after completing their study chores.
How Much is Too Much?
Though the FDA does not have a set of guidelines for safe caffeine consumption, the Canadian government recommends a daily caffeine intake of no more than 2.5 mg per kg of body weight. Based on this value, it recommends the daily caffeine limits for children in different age groups:
Caffeine Concentration in Various Foods and Beverages
Food Caffeine (mg)
Coffee, 355 ml, coffee shop variety 260
Energy drinks, 236 ml 47–163
Espresso, 29.5 ml 64
Candy, semi-sweet chocolate, 29.5 ml* 18
Hot chocolate, 355 ml, coffee shop variety* 20
Hot tea, 1 cup 48
Cola, 355 ml 48
*Chocolate and chocolate-containing foods are not a major source of caffeine.
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