Recently in the news, we learned about a teenager in South Carolina who died from a caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia. Although the teen had consumed quite a bit of caffeine in a short amount of time, I'm not sure that most adults or teens would have seen this as completely out of the ordinary. The teenager had consumed a cafe latte, a large Diet Mountain Dew, and an energy drink before collapsing.
Caffeine is a legal substance that many of us use on a daily basis. So how much is too much and when is it dangerous?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents (12-18) should not consume more than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day. More than this has been associated with elevated blood pressure. It is advised that children and adolescents specifically avoid energy drinks, as they contain a significant amount of caffeine and other stimulants. Some energy drinks can contain more than 500 milligrams of caffeine, which is equal to about 14 cans of soda!
Energy drinks have been shown to raise stress levels, increase heart rate, increase blood pressure, thicken blood, and cause sleep disruption. The possible interaction of caffeine with other ingredients in energy drinks may impact the function of your arteries. Some research has even linked energy drink consumption to an increased risk of symptoms of mental health problems.
Caffeine can be even more dangerous for certain people, including those taking certain medications, like Adderall, for Attention Deficit Disorder. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, adults can typically consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day without side effects. However, it is important to note that caffeine itself is a stimulant and can be habit forming.
Energy drinks are popular among teenagers, particularly young athletes. The problem is that there is no regulation of the marketing of these drinks to teenagers and often times, both teens and parents assume that they are completely safe. Educate yourself and your teen on how much caffeine is safe. Parents don't need one more thing to worry about, and caffeine shouldn't have to be one of them!
For more information on what energy drinks can do to your body, check out the CNN article.