Back in the day, caffeine was only popular with adults. They’d start off their day with a cup of coffee, usually black, and oftentimes drink several cups during the day. Now coffee shops are filled with teens and even middle school children consuming sugary coffee and tea concoctions. Young people are also using energy drinks that are loaded with caffeine. And that can be dangerous.
For example, a high school senior in Ohio died from cardiac arrhythmia and a seizure as a result of a lethal overdose of caffeine. The autopsy showed that the teen had consumed a powdered form of caffeine bought online. He had more than 70 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of blood in his system. A typical coffee drinker would have 3 to 5 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of blood.
Food and Drug Administration Commission Margaret Hamburg said the agency needs to better understand the role of the stimulant in non-traditional products, especially on children. She said the science is not absolutely clear about its effects. However, the agency is investigating the safety of energy drinks and energy shots, prompted by consumer reports of illness and death.
Before you consume energy drinks, ask yourself, “why?” Our bodies were not designed to “need” caffeine in order to function. Are you doing it because everyone else is, or are you really tired or fatigued? If you’re tired, are you getting enough sleep? Are you watching a lot of TV at night? Are you spending too much time playing video games or chatting online with friends? Studies now show that teens who regularly plug into social networking sites, play video games, watch TV or even listen to music before bedtime report getting at least one hour less of sleep than teens who don’t. They wake up more often during the night and don’t fall asleep as quickly.
And here’s another thing to consider: according to a study by the University of Maryland School of Public Health, young people who consume energy drinks are more likely to start drinking alcohol at a younger age and consume more alcohol at each drinking session.
A little caffeine never hurt anyone. But before you start consuming a lot of it, it pays to find out more.