The information available on caffeine these days is very confusing. Some sources advocate caffeine drinks as “energy” drinks. Some recommend caffeinated drinks but suggest avoiding the “additives” in caffeinated drinks – sugar, fat, vitamins, and amino acids. Others claim that caffeine is addictive with nasty side-effects. Others condemn caffeine in all forms and for all purposes. What’s the truth about caffeine?
First fact: Caffeine is not an “energy” producer! True energy comes from a source of calories which can be burned by the body. Caffeine does not produce energy.
Three-quarters of children drink caffeine each day in the U.S.
Kids and teens are consuming about the same amount of caffeine they were a decade ago. Analysis of NHANES data from 1999-2010 reveals the sources have changed dramatically. Soda accounted for 62% of caffeine in 1999, but now only 38%. However, caffeine from coffee jumped from 10% to 24%, and energy drinks now account for 6% of caffeine consumption. Energy drinks are a particular concern due to their high caffeine content.
Inability to curb caffeine use is a growing health concern.
People often joke about their daily dependence on coffee, but new research is finding caffeine dependence is no laughing matter. A recent literature review cites population-based studies in which over 50% of regular caffeine users have serious trouble reducing or quitting their consumption, even if they have conditions negatively impacted by caffeine (pregnancy, heart condition, bleeding disorders). Consistent withdrawal symptoms and difficulty functioning also point to problematic use.
PositiveTip: Regular exercise, a wholesome diet and adequate sleep will help you stay alert without caffeine.
Energy drinks pose serious health risks to children.
Energy drinks contain pharmacologically active substances in addition to caffeine levels higher than soda drinks. Reports in various countries of the toxicity of these substances has raised serious concern over the safety of children and adolescents. In the USA, 46% of the 5448 caffeine overdoses last year occurred in children and adolescents under the age of 19. Also, 30% to 50% of adolescents and young adults consume energy drinks. More needs to be done to alert parents and children of their potential danger.
PositiveTip: Children and adolescents are healthier when they learn not to depend on drug effects to get through their day. The best sources of energy are good nutritious food, exercise and a good nights sleep.
Young children drink 2 to 3 times the caffeine they had 10 years ago.
Researchers have reported that 75% of children 5-12 years old consume caffeine daily, and the average intake is three times higher than the 22-33 mg per day reported a decade ago. In this study, kids averaged 109 mg of caffeine per day -- the equivalent of nearly three cans of caffeinated soda. The more caffeine they consumed, the fewer hours of sleep they got on average.
PositiveTip: Kids do not need caffeine, and can have very negative effects. Give them only non-caffeinated beverages.
A report from Stanford University gave these recommendations:
More than 500 new "energy drinks" were introduced in 2009!
Are you trying to reduce your stress levels? Working to get more relaxation into your life? If these are some of your goals, then avoiding caffeine will assist you in achieving them. Consuming caffeine produces a prolonged stress response in the body. It raises levels of the "stress" hormones, increases blood pressure and heart rate, stimulates production of gastric acids and colonic contractile activity--to name a few! Yet caffeine is the world's most popular psychoactive substance. With more than 500 new "energy drinks" launched last year, most of them targeted at youth, we can expect more intoxication and addiction than ever.
PositiveTip: Avoidance of caffeine in all forms is best! Whipping a tired horse only increases its fatigue.
And now...fruit juices with an added stimulant!
Minute Maid, a subsidiary of the Coco Cola Company, has announced it will be launching "Minute Maid Enhanced" juices next year in single serving sizes. Specifically, the Strawberry Kiwi Flavored Juice Drink will combine fruit juices with yerba mate, a plant native to South America that contains caffeine. This product will be promoted as a "delicious natural energy boost." Caffeine's effect is like whipping a tired horse. You get a little more speed, but at the expense of a let down that demands more stimulant.
PositiveTip: Choose to get adequate rest and physical activity, and you can skip the caffeine.