Most of us begin our days with a cup of brewed tea or coffee, don’t we? But what if our kids follow the same pattern? Nah, it’s the worst idea! That’s because adults and children function very differently. Your favourite beverage may seem harmless, but it contains a stimulant called caffeine that can be detrimental to your child’s health. Yes, the side effects of caffeine can be real for kids.
As per The American Academy of Pediatrics, children under 12 must not be given any caffeine. Also, all children and teens must abstain from any use of energy drinks. All in all, caffeine should be limited to 100 mg daily for those who fall between the age of 12-18 years.
But why is caffeine so harmful to children? Let’s understand this better with the help of Rashi Chahal, Nutritionist, Rosewalk Healthcare. Here’s what she tells Health Shots, “Caffeine can affect children’s heart, brain, kidney, liver, and their well-being. It can make children more hyperactive and help them utilise their energy in the right manner. It can also affect their mood in many ways.”
It’s essential to understand that caffeine is not just present in coffee or tea. It is an integral component in sweets, drinks, bakery foods, chocolates, and cookies. Chahal says that caffeine impacts the absorption of healthier food in children, and since they need more vitamins and minerals for their development, their health is impacted.
Although large amounts are discouraged even in the case of adults due to side effects of caffeine, it is essential to understand that we are more responsible for our actions. Chahal adds that as adults, even if we have a caffeinated beverage, we are aware of compensating it with several glasses of water. That may not be the case with children, who may unknowingly drink juice or energy drinks, without being wary of the harmful effects.
“Also, having tea or coffee with food can affect the absorption of important minerals. Plus, with kids, having anything caffeinated beyond breakfast is not a good idea, since that time is to have fruits or milk,” she adds.
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Chahal says that there is greater awareness today in the current generation, about what they choose to eat. Earlier, there was only a single type of tea or coffee available, but today, there are also some lightly brewed varieties that can be consumed.
“Green tea can be consumed by children, but not more than one cup. It also depends on the kinds of tea and coffee you use. If you use pure varieties, a very little amount is needed. Some of the mixtures have other ingredients too, and can pose side-effects of caffeine in children,” she concludes.