Coffee and Children
Well yes and no.
Children consuming coffee is taboo. It is punishable by the laws of morality and woe unto you if the ethics police find you.
But did you know that your child could be consuming more coffee than you think? These guys found a 70% increase in children and adolescents consuming caffeine.
This article should help you understand how coffee affects the body. It will also help you understand the safe limits to consume. Unfortunately, most of the studies done were either done on adults and animals.
Coffee and children
Coffee is a stimulant that is growing in popularity globally. Health specialists recommend coffee consumption for its health benefits.
Coffee contains caffeine which is the main source of the benefits enjoyed in coffee. Children more often get caffeine from other sources. This includes energy drinks, soft drinks, chocolate, fruit juice among others.
These caffeine-loaded alternative foods are more popular with kids. Marketing agents target children and teens for these products.
Unfortunately, the behavior of children concerning coffee consumption is unknown. There have been limited studies and thus information in this regard is insufficient.
A study identified the growth of caffeine consumption amongst children and adolescents. The research-based it’s finding on soft drinks and juice beverages.
Coffee is usually portrayed as ‘cool’ capturing the attention of children and adolescents. This is coupled with parents slacking off in monitoring their children’s eating behaviors.
This article will provide you with an insight on why the benefits coffee may have on children. You will also understand the possible effect of coffee and how caffeine behaves in the body.
Coffee consumption limits in children
As we had earlier indicated caffeine is the major ingredient. Of the main sources of caffeine, coffee constitutes 70%, soft drinks 16%, and tea 12%. Adults take the biggest share of coffee consumers globally.
A study was done and it was established that caffeine consumption has been on the rise. The Leading source of caffeine is coffee and energy drinks. It was also noted that soft drinks were experiencing a decline in consumption.
There is a definite caffeine level that is acceptable in adults. But, there is limited research meant to identify safe coffee limits in children.
The recommended limit for coffee consumption among adults is 400 mg per day. That amounts to 4-5 cups daily. Data from Johns Hopkins children’s hospital lists the safe caffeine limits.
Recommended safe caffeine levels for kids and adolescents:
- Ages 4-6:45 mg (A can of coke or half a cup of coffee)
- Ages 7-9: 62.5 mg (Three-quarter cup of coffee or one and a half cans of coke)
- Ages 10-12: 85 mg ( one cup of coffee or two cans of coke)
- Adolescents: 100 mg (One and a half cups of coffee or three cans of coke)
Caffeine mechanism and body metabolism
Imagine yourself entering a lecture room and heading to your seat. The moment you approach the seat, someone else grabs it before you. You keep on going around the hall and before you know it the class is full and you are forced to stand.
Well, that’s an illustration of the relationship between caffeine and Adenosine. These sleep-causing agents (Adenosine) get intercepted by compounds in caffeine. The union between Adenosine and its receptors is what leads you to feel drowsy.
There are four known Adenosine receptors, A1, A2. A3 and A4. Low caffeine levels most of the time target A1 and A2. High caffeine concentration levels focus their attention on A2 and A4.
Effects of Coffee on kids
As mentioned, there has been a limited study done on children’s consumption of coffee. But, one area that researchers have constantly worked with is rats.
This is not the best reference but research on rodents will base most of our discussion here.
Coffee affects the nervous system and leads to body stimulation and arousal. Other studies show that consuming coffee affects rational behavior. Although the study was done on rats, findings established caffeine affecting human logic.
Another study on rats established the correlation between coffee and improved memory retention.
It will be incorrect to conclude that coffee boosts memory retention in humans. But, previous studies done on rodents have been used to tell human behavior.
If these findings can be confirmed in children, then coffee can be an ideal diet for their growth.
When coffee is consumed, you will experience varied emotions and moods. But when you consume coffee in excess, you will feel nervous, jittery, headache, or even nausea.
Increased consumption of coffee leads to tolerance which leads to more coffee yearning. Often, you will not feel the side effects of coffee. You will constantly yearn for another cup.
As a kid, these effects may be more significant than those seen in adults.
The effect of consuming coffee in excess results in habitual consumers. Drinking coffee can turn bad if you become tolerant.
Children should thus not be allowed to reach this point. Most adults consume beyond the safe levels to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Coffee consumption has witnessed increased caffeine in adults and adolescents. But, with limited research on children, we can only speculate.
Children have a higher likelihood to develop a dependence on coffee. It’s unknown if children with mild coffee dependency can change as they get older.
It would be unfair to conclude on the effects coffee has on children. More research is necessary to understand coffee and children.
Should You be Worried about children using coffee
The idea of perceiving children as small adults is not good. Coffee can affect children and adolescents in different ways.
Children are growing beings in their bodies and brains. With this, it is necessary to have a proper diet and rest. Coffee disrupts sleep and has positive and negative effects on your health.
The following are insights into various possible effects of coffee on children. Their developing minds and bodies must have proper control and planning.
● Coffee in brain development
Human brain development often happens when we are young. We take in a lot and our lifestyle is often shaped when we are young.
Coffee as an Adenosine interceptor can change the formation of the receptors. Additionally, coffee reacts with the neurons and brain region. Without proper studies, we can only imagine the damage that this may cause to the brain in kids.
● Sleep deprivation and coffee
While adults may escape the sleeping bug, children might not have the capacity to do that. Coffee consumption is a major sleep inhibitor.
Regardless of the amount of coffee drank, consumers will have their sleep derived. Besides, children who drink coffee may break their sleep patterns leading to fatigue.
Other issues that we have highlighted include:
- Poor diet and weight problems
- Coffee tolerance
- Blood pressure
Is coffee good for children?
We must never find the right answer. But we can be guided by the reports and studies for adults and animals.
As a guardian, you are now enlightened and understand coffee and the human body. This especially applies to children.
The information provided here proves that they need to research children. Understand their development and the impact of being exposed to drinking coffee.