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Caffeine, Kids and Us

More of us are drinking lots of coffee and young children are showing the largest increase annually. The percentage of Americans drinking coffee showed a 5% increase this year, per a March release by the National Coffee Association (NCA). The age group with the most robust increase are 13-18 year olds. Their drinks of choice are the gourmet coffee brands which come with plenty of sugar and calories. Kids are not just drinking lots of coffee, they are also drinking caffeinated sodas and energy drinks.

Honestly, the smell of coffee will pull many young people in. My experience and love of coffee was influenced by my maternal grandmother. She was a fine farmer, and among the many things she grew was coffee. I distinctly remember the aroma when she was roasting and grinding coffee. The mornings that she brewed from her specialty crop, I can never forget the aroma. I would beg for some, and she let me taste a spoonful and no more. To this day I simply love the smell of great coffee, it's like my way I become awake. Thank goodness, I have a limited tolerance of coffee. It's my unique story, but I think culture, family and friends, and marketing heavily influence coffee consumption for teens and kids.

How much Caffeine is Safe?

Leading health experts recommend 400 mg of caffeine a day is probably safe for most healthy adults. That is approximately four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two "energy shot" drinks. More than 500-600 mg a day, is "heavy daily caffeine use. Heavy use can cause side effects, such as nervousness, anxiety, sleep problems, gastrointestinal disturbances, tremors, increased heart rate and even death. Even moderate doses of 100-400 mg can cause symptoms in children and adolescents. Prior studies show that many adolescents are consuming 60-800 mg per day. The Mayo Clinic suggest a maximum of 100 mg a day for adolescents and none for younger children.

One 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains 95-200 mg of caffeine

One restaurant-style 1-ounce cup of espresso contains 47-75 mg One 8-ounce "specialty" coffee such as mocha or latte contains 63-175 mg

One 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew contains 55mg of caffeine

Who should avoid coffee?

  • Caffeine can worsen symptoms of anxiety

  • Children who have any problem with sleeping or chronic insomnia, caffeine can worsen sleeplessness

  • Anyone with arrhythmia an irregular or abnormal heartbeat, caffeine increases excitability within the heart, which can exacerbate the arrhythmia

Overall, expert agree that young kids should avoid caffeine and although studies show value in the antioxidants in coffee, adults should still stay within the recommendations.

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