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Should Children Have Caffeine?

Children's consumption of caffeine, found in popular drinks like iced coffee, bottled mocha, and Coca-Cola is increasing. This ingredient, however, isn't recommended for young people due to its potential negative impact on their health and development. Although small amounts of caffeine may not cause harm, it's best to limit your child's intake. Here's why:

Are food and drinks that have caffeine bad for kids?

Experts advise against giving caffeine to children, especially those under 12 years old. Unfortunately, a 2014 study found that 73% of children and teens consume drinks with varying amounts of caffeine daily, mostly from sugary drinks, coffee, and energy drinks.

Adolescents between ages 12-18 should have no more than 100 mg of caffeine per day. It's important to note that coffee drinks with added ingredients like chocolate and whipped cream can be high in calories. Additionally, sweet drinks don't help maintain your child's health.

coffe with whipped cream

 Side effects of caffeine on children

Children can experience negative side effects from caffeine consumption due to their smaller and still-developing bodies. Among these are:
  • Consuming high amounts of caffeine can cause dehydration in children, as it is a diuretic.
  • A 2015 study found that children who consume caffeine are more likely to experience stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Changes in sleep patterns due to caffeine can negatively impact a child's physical and cognitive development.
  • Children who consume large quantities of caffeine may experience irritability and tremors.
  • Regular caffeine consumption during childhood can create a dependency that carries over into adulthood, resulting in withdrawal symptoms like fatigue, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, and headaches.
  • The release of hydrochloric acid in the stomach due to caffeine intake can cause abdominal pain and nausea.

How much caffeine should children have?

It is crucial to be aware that excessive caffeine intake can result in an overdose and should be treated medically. The symptoms may include hypertension, irregular or rapid heart rate, nausea, and even hallucinations. Additionally, it is worth noting that children with a history of heart issues, seizures, or migraines may experience these complications if they consume caffeine.

boy drinking from a cup

How much caffeine is in the drinks?

To bottom-line it, it's important to keep a check on the caffeine intake of your kids, no matter where they consume it - be it at home, a coffee shop, or from sweet beverages purchased at a kiosk. It is highly recommended that you monitor the amount of caffeine in each drink and ensure that your children do not exceed the daily limit allowed for them, which is indicated for a 200 ml glass (excluding espresso and cappuccino drinks).
  • Espresso and regular cappuccino contain 65 mg of caffeine in a 30-50 ml and 60-100 ml serving, respectively.
  • Regular home coffee (such as Nescafé) has 25-75 mg of caffeine, while decaffeinated coffee contains 0-5 mg of caffeine
  • Green tea has 25 mg of caffeine and black tea has 40 mg of caffeine.
  • A bottle or can of a Cola drink contains 20-25 mg of caffeine.
  • Energy drinks are the worst, and can have up to 267 mg of caffeine! We advise most strongly not to drink these, adult or child. They're just terrible for you.

How to make sure your children don't have too much caffeine

As previously stated, it is unnecessary for young children to consume caffeine. However, if your child is older and you permit them to have a small amount, there are guidelines to follow. For adolescents aged 12 and above, it is recommended that they consume no more than 2.5 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight each day. To ensure your child stays within this limit, you can calculate the appropriate amount and inform them of their daily allowance. It is also important to check the caffeine content of the drinks they regularly consume and monitor their intake accordingly. If your child experiences anxiety, stomach issues, or heart problems, it is best to avoid caffeine altogether, regardless of their age.
As parents, you may be wondering what to do if your kids enjoy caffeinated drinks. Firstly, it's important to educate them about caffeine-free alternatives that contain lower amounts of caffeine. Additionally, you can suggest that if they do choose to have a caffeinated drink, it's best to limit it to one per day, whether it's coffee, cola, or green tea. You can also introduce them to new drink options such as smoothies or herbal tea that are completely caffeine-free.
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