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Effects of Energy Drinks on Kids: Have the talk

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As parents, we all know the importance of communicating with our kids-teens especially. I am sure you have had the sex talk, relationships talk, drugs talk and even the schoolwork talk, but have you had the Energy Drink talk?

That is no joke! I have an 18 year old son and he does an energy drink from time to time and I enjoy them myself. However, I do monitor as best as I can and have told my son several times about how to best consume an energy drink. Why? Because there are real dangers in over-caffeinating yourself. I used to work in Cardiology and have heard about ER visits linked to too much caffeine. So I researched the facts because, after all, there is nothing worse than trying to educate your teen when you can’t answer their questions.

I will try and break this up into just facts. I researched a few places, but Forbes is always my favorite place to go for quality reports.
How Much Caffeine is Safe?
Over 500mg of caffeine in a 24 hour period will put you in the heavy caffeine use category.

12oz Cola 34-38mg
12oz Amp Energy Drink 107mg
12oz Monster Energy Drink 120mg
12 Red Bull 116mg
Spike Shooter 428mg
Wiredx344 252mg
Grande Starbucks Coffee 330mg

So, none of those put you into a heavy use category except that many of these drinks are larger than 12oz if the entire can is consumed. But what we all need to know is, if you start your day with a Large Starbucks, have a soda at lunch and an entire can of an energy drink for an afternoon pick up or before our workout-we are over 500mg!

Side Effects

Insomnia, anxiety, elevated blood pressure, digestive problems are symptoms of too much caffeine
The crash or withdraw can bring headaches, racing heart rate, anxiety.

Mixing alcohol w/ energy drinks has severe side effects! Mixing the 2 is equivalent to having a bottle of wine then some cups coffee to follow. You are just as impaired visually and motor skills are just as impaired, but you feel and think you are OK. I saw a quote somewhere from a Medical Director that described someone who consumes Energy drinks with alcohol by saying “They are still drunk..they are just a very awake drunk!”

Human Redline (meaning death) will almost surely occur at 10 grams of caffeine consumed in a 24 hour period. So, to “die” from caffeine is a bit of a stretch, but there have been deaths reported and under investigation as being energy drink related but they are  few and all those patients had underlying medical issues. No medical or science professional knows yet of  what any long term side effects are of too much caffeine. To me, that unknown is a bit scary!

It was also said in a few reports, that your child can actually do poorly on a test if they study with caffeine overload. They will not perform well the next day off the caffeine because they retained it in a “caffineated”state and cannot recall in a withdraw state. Personally, I tend to be OK with energy drinks when it is that afternoon thud when I am running errands or need to sit through a game, but not before a workout or as I am preparing mentally for an interview,exam, etc….

Caffeine Overload

So, what to tell you kids-teens especially?

The truth and facts! Here is a sample script of what I would use for my child:

“Son, I know you like your energy drinks and having one from time to time is OK with me, but I did some valid research and feel it is important that you know some facts to keep in mind so you can make your own decisions on how you will consume these. Just know that healthy is around 300mg of caffeine a day, so please read the label and know how much you are consuming. By 500mg, it is a bit dangerous and you will have caffeine overload symptoms that could really effect you. 

If you know others who mix these with alcohol, understand that the side effect is that you are unable to feel or know when you have had too much to drink, so as I hope you would not make the decision to consume alcohol at your age, just watch out for those that are around you making poor decisions. The best natural energy is exercise and 8 hours of quality sleep. So consuming an energy drink late in the day will keep your body from getting to the healthy sleep state. Just know what you consume in the day, read your labels and watch the time. Before sports is the worst, believe it or not because you will crash and usually at the time you need your energy the most-near the end of a game/practice so keep the water handy for those moments. Any questions?”

However you script the talk, have it! Just as you are now informed which has enlightened you a bit, your child will become enlightened once they are informed as well. I am no doctor or an expert on caffeine, but the credible reports are real and here to help guide us as parents, professionals and educators. 


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19 thoughts on “Effects of Energy Drinks on Kids: Have the talk”

  1. My husband drinks way to many energy drinks I wish he would stop 🙁 My kids are only 2 and 5 and I don't let them drink anything besides Milk, juice and water.

  2. My daughter is 7 and is not allowed to have caffeine (except for the tiny amount in dark chocolate). I do worry about when she's older and will have access to these drinks, but I try to keep mostly whole foods and neutral drinks (milk-juice-water) so that she won't have a taste for that stuff. Here's hoping!

  3. I love energy drinks but was recently diagnosed with an unrelated heart problem so I decided to cut out caffine as much as possible. Its hard to find caffine free coke, but when I do, I stock up on it!

  4. YUCK! Energy drinks are so gross. I don't allow anyone in the house to drink them. Great info. Based on the caffeine consumption, my one cup of coffee puts me in the safe limits!

  5. I don't drink Energy drinks because the ingredients freak me out a little. I do love my caffeine, but I don't get anywhere near the dosage in most of these energy drinks. Scary

  6. My brother lived on these during boot camp. He said his officers actually recommended he drink these! I was shocked, because they are definitely not good for you. Now, he drinks one occasionally.

  7. My husband and I only allow our kids an occasional soda here and there but mostly they turn it down. They would rather drink milk or water. Energy drinks are not great but definitely need to be monitored when consumed by kids. I can't believe how much caffeine is in them!!!

  8. I think they should take energy drinks off of the market period. If people change there eating habits to include more natural foods they would have all of the energy they need. Thanks for sharing.

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