We often hear about the health risks of drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverages such as soda and energy drinks. While it’s often referred to as an addiction, caffeine does actually have some benefits to overall behavior and productivity in kids. In mild to moderate amounts, caffeine can help children and teens focus and be more active throughout the day. However, excessive intake of coffee or other caffeinated beverages can wreak havoc on the body and mind and cause insomnia, jitteriness, nervousness, and even damage the bones in the long-term by reducing calcium.
Caffeinated Kids: What are the Health Benefits of Caffeine in Children?
Believe it or not, there are some advantages of allowing your kids to consume caffeine. In a busy teenage life, it helps keep them alert and more focused on daily activities. Caffeine is especially helpful for certain conditions that involve attention and concentration, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and attention deficit disorder (ADD).
ADHD and ADD are characterized by symptoms of impulsivity, inattentiveness, and hyperactivity that can lead to some pretty major behavioral problems, especially in the school setting. Standard treatment for these disorders is therapy and stimulant medication. However, as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs like Adderall and Ritalin, parents have been turning toward morning coffee time with their kids as a more “natural” stimulant than pills created in a lab. The caffeine reportedly has a calming effect, allowing the child to sit still for longer periods of time. Fidgety, constant movement is often a complaint of teachers about their ADHD students.
A great deal of research has been done on the effects of caffeine in those with ADHD or ADD, and the results have been a bit mixed. Some have reported greater focus, but impaired short-term memory. Some even developed sleeping problems. Each individual child is different, and so is the severity of their symptoms. If caffeine is being considered as a treatment for ADHD and ADD symptoms, be sure to take the child’s symptoms and body size into consideration so as not to over-do the amount of caffeine.
Additionally, caffeine is a diuretic, which is just a fancy term that means it makes you pee more. This can be a good thing in order to keep the kidneys and bladder functioning, clean, and clear of toxins.
How Much is Too Much?
Through two teenage forbidden lovers, Shakespeare taught us that too much of anything is incredibly dangerous and sometimes fatal. There are most definitely health risks associated with caffeine if consumed in high amounts, but the benefits of feeling more focused throughout the day can outweigh the risks. Besides, the drugs received from the pharmacy are just as much of a stimulant as caffeine, so this would be a bit more of a holistic approach to treating symptoms.
Generally speaking, children should not consume more than 100 mg of caffeine a day. Again, use your judgment to determine this dosage based on size and reaction to a caffeinated beverage.