What age is caffeine safe?
Let’s start with the basics. What is caffeine, why is everyone addicted to this?
Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in coffee, tea, and other food and drinks. This is defined as a drug because it stimulates the nervous system. It has the same effects both in adults and kids and at lower levels, which can make people feel more alert and energetic. These days’ foods and drinks with caffeine are very rampant, still, it is better to keep its consumption at minimum levels especially in younger kids.
These are some of the symptoms of caffeine consumption both in adults and kids:
- Jitters and nervousness
- Upset stomach
- Lack of focus
- Trouble sleeping
- Increase heart rate
- Higher blood pressure
In kids, it doesn’t take much caffeine to experience these effects. What other possible problems to encounter? What age is caffeine safe?
Here are some other reasons to limit kids from consuming caffeine:
- Sometimes kids drink caffeinated soft drinks that can cause obesity.
- These caffeinated drinks contain empty calories and don’t have any vitamins and minerals as a healthy source to build strong bones and teeth.
- It could also lead to dental cavities from the high sugar content and the erosion of tooth enamel from acidity.
- Since caffeine is diuretic it causes the body to eliminate water which may contribute to dehydration. It’s good to avoid excessive caffeine in hot water when kids need to replace fluids lost through sweating.
- Caffeine has withdrawal symptoms like headaches, muscle aches, and irritability.
- It can also increase your heart rates or worsen your nervous disorders and kids don’t know that they’re at risk.
So, what age is caffeine safe?
No matter what your age is, there is a certain thing called caffeine sensitivity which refers to the amount of caffeine that will produce an effect on someone. On average, the smaller or the younger the person, the less caffeine necessary to produce side effects. This caffeine sensitivity is greatly affected by daily caffeine intake.
People who drink caffeinated beverages soon develop reduced caffeine sensitivity. Meaning, the higher dose of caffeine to reach the same effects as someone who doesn’t drink caffeinated beverages. All in all, kids are more sensitive than adults and can feel its effects for up to 6 hours.
Can you keep your kids safe from caffeinated drinks? The best to avoid or cut caffeine is to eliminate soda. Instead, give them water or milk or fruit juice in small amounts. And remember to reduce your caffeine intake gradually, otherwise, your kids could get headaches or feel tired. Just like other things, moderation is the key to keeping your kids’ caffeine consumption under control.
As with everything, moderation is the key to keeping your kids’ caffeine consumption under control. You may still wonder what age is caffeine safe. For kids, a few sips here and there are no big deal. But when sips turn into daily cups, that’s another story. In the US, there are no standards for caffeine intake but in Canada, it has a maximum limit of 45mg per day for kids. In younger children, unpleasant symptoms occur after just a small amount of caffeine intake. Childhood and adolescence are the most important times for bone strengthening and too much caffeine can disrupt with calcium absorption which greatly affects proper growth.
In general, experts advise that adolescents under 14 should avoid caffeine where possible, and teenager between 14 and 17 years of age should limit their intake to 100mg or less a day. This is equivalent to a small milky coffee (60mg), or a couple of cups of tea (30mg each), or some dark chocolate (26mg/40g) a day. Some teenagers are drinking large coffees, energy drinks, and a cola a day which is equivalent to as much as 500-600ng of caffeine. That’s why it is best to avoid stimulants and energy drinks that are high in sugar.