I was just at our local coffee shop and I noticed all these tweens and teens getting a cup of coffee to start off their day. I am not too sure if it is because they want the caffeine pick up or if it is a habit that has been established or just a social thing, but I do know that caffeine intake during the teen years is not something I suggest for teens to partake in.
Although the effects of caffeine vary from person to person, we do know that on a physiological level that it may increase mental alertness ( give you a good energy boost), may increase your mood, some anxiety, and jitters. Caffeine will dilate the blood vessels which can help relief headaches but in some people in may cause headaches.
The biggest threat I feel with caffeine intake and teens is that caffeine disrupts calcium absorption. During the teen years, calcium is building in the body – taking every bit of calcium it can take. During the teen years, building strong bones is crucial to wade off broken bones, possible osteopenia, osteoporosis in the future.
Other negative effects of caffeine include:
- increased heart rate
- caffeine is a diuretic ( meaning you will be urinating more frequently) and therefore, may lead to dehydration
- dizziness, which may lead to unnecessary falls/accidents
- may disrupt sleep habits
Read my post, The caffeine blues, to learn more of the possible long term effects of caffeine in the body.
The average 5 oz ( which is not much) drip coffee had 115mg of caffeine, iced black tea has 70mg, and a 12 oz coke has approximately 54mg. Another note: caffeine is hidden in many foods (as additives), chocolate, soft drinks, and other beverages. It is a good idea to encourage as much water drinking as possible so that teens will not be dependent on a sweeten and caffeinated drink.
All in all, balance is the key and making sure that kids are not drinking ( or eating) too much caffeinated drinks during the day. Aim for less then 100mg a day to not only balance calcium absorption but to avoid any caffeine withdraw symptoms ( headaches, fatigue, irritability).