Unlike many other psychoactive substances, Caffeine is the most consumed psychoactive substance in the world and is not restricted by law or supervised in most countries. Our brain and neurological system are stimulated by caffeine, which impedes drowsiness, restores alertness, and brightens our mood.
How Much Caffeine Is Safe To Drink?
Most people think caffeine is only found in coffee. But, it comes from various sources. It comes naturally from ingredients like beans, berries, tea leaves, and nuts. The most widely available caffeine products in the market are coffee, tea, energy drinks, carbonated soft drinks, and over-the-counter supplements.
Up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day is considered safe for most adults as cited by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has not specified a safe amount for children to consume, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against the use of caffeine and other stimulants by children.
Is Caffeine Dependence Real Among Teenagers?
Caffeine consumption has been constantly growing, especially among children and youngsters. Given the multitude of coffee shops in the neighbourhood, it is easy for teenagers to be tempted to drink coffee. Kids hang out at them and drink caffeinated beverages before, after, and even during school hours.
Most adolescents are ignorant of the effects of caffeine, and those who comprehend it are eager to do anything to stay awake. With that said, kids keep consuming caffeine even after they experience the side effects.
⚠️ People who consume caffeine regularly may develop physical and psychological dependence and often experience withdrawal symptoms on quitting or cutting back their caffeine intake. The withdrawal symptoms vary in severity. Headaches, exhaustion, drowsiness, difficulty in concentrating, difficulty in completing tasks, irritability, depression, anxiety, nausea, muscle aches, and hot and cold spells are a few of the typical withdrawal symptoms.
How Does Caffeine Affect Teens?
Although regular intake of caffeine has certain positive outcomes like it can decrease the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and Dementia, overindulging can cause serious side effects.
? As we all are aware that adolescence is a vital time for brain development. Research shows that drinking caffeine from a young age can stunt brain development. That’s because caffeine can make these growing connections less efficient, stop them from forming, and might produce greater changes in brain chemistry. Additionally, studies have suggested that the developing teen brain is more susceptible to stress and addiction.
? Caffeine takes a major toll on a teen’s sleep. Studies show caffeine consumption can affect a teenager’s concentration and ability to sleep, which in turn may slow the maturing process of their brains. Teens need an average of 8-10 hours of sleep a night, but most are only getting 5-6 hours or less. Sleep deprivation in teens can affect their education, mental health, and physical health.
? Caffeine has a negative effect on the calcium levels in the body, causing bone loss over time. Additionally, drinking soda has been associated with a greater incidence of fractures in the body. Replacing energy drinks with milk in their diets could potentially decrease the chances of developing osteoporosis.
? In the longer term, developing a habit of drinking a lot of coffee could be harmful to heart health and can result in heart palpitations and increased heart rates.
What Can Be Done?
As parents, it is advisable to take the needed precautions when it comes to our kids. It’s hard to control all the things our kids choose to eat and drink when we’re not around. Nevertheless, we can educate our kids about the unhealthy sides of over consumption of caffeinated products and suggest ways to limit their intake.
You may start by removing the soft drinks stocked in the refrigerator. Restrict purchasing of energy drinks and other beverages with a lot of caffeine. Help your family to make it a habit to drink water and low-fat milk instead.
In most cases, the nutrition labels don’t list the quantity of caffeine a product has. Therefore, if you find that your teen is drinking caffeine, do a quick search for the product’s ingredient list on the internet. This list will show how many milligrams of caffeine are in the product. And you should also know the maximum level of caffeine your teen can consume.
Caffeinated drinks can lead to obesity and tooth decay due to their high sugar content. So, limiting caffeine could be better for your kid’s overall health. Keep your teens informed about the dangers of these sugary drinks. Talk to them about the dangers of caffeine in the same way you warn them about drugs and alcohol. Show them how to handle stress and tiredness without depending on these stimulants and restrict them from developing any misconceptions.
Look out for signs when your kid consumes a lot of caffeine. Also, pay attention to what they have been eating and drinking, if your kid is jittery or not sleeping well. If you find they consume more caffeine than they should, help them to cut back the intake. Be aware of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms and help them get over it.
In conclusion, caffeine consumption does appear to have negative effects on teenagers. While consumed in moderation by adults, caffeine acts as a stimulant. While there is much discussion over the effects of caffeine on our bodies, there are those who believe it has positive effects and those who think it has negative effects. The wisest approach in such a debate is to use caffeine in moderation, to benefit rather than to cause harm.
Due to harmful consequences, easy availability to children, and growing consumption of caffeine products, it is detrimental to recognize caffeine as an addictive substance and impose regulatory measures on sale, advertisement, maximum caffeine content, safety limit, and health consequences.
There is an intense need for appropriate public health regulatory measures and awareness about the addictive potential and harms related to caffeine. Also, check the safety limit on the labels before purchasing any caffeine-containing products for your teens and keep an eye on their physical and mental health.