What’s the Harm in My Child or Teen Drinking Energy Drinks?

A service article revealing the risks when children and teens consume energy drinks.

What are your kids drinking? We know water is number one importance for hydration and not to forget milk for the calcium and vitamin D. Soda pop used to be the enemy beverage for parents trying to feed their kids in a healthy manner, but now another drink has even more dangerous consequences than the can of liquid sugar. Energy drinks pack more of a punch than just excess calories. Despite energy drinks being on the market for several years now, most children and teens do not understand the consequences of chugging back a Rockstar between classes for a boost.

Energy drinks such as Red Bull are marketed as providing improved energy, concentration and athletic performance. Ingredients in these drinks include substances such as caffeine, taurine (an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein) and glucuronolactone (a carbohydrate).

These drinks contain similar amounts of caffeine as a cup of coffee and approximately three times the amount of caffeine as a similar amount of cola type soft drink. For example, one can of Red Bull contains 80 milligrams (mg) of caffeine. Health Canada recommends that children 10-12 years of age limit their caffeine intake to no more than 85 mg per day.

Energy drinks should not be confused with sports drinks such as Gatorade, which can be useful to re-hydrate the body after engaging in intense workouts lasting longer than an hour. Energy drinks are not thirst quenchers and may actually lead to dehydration.

Health Canada has reports of incidences of adverse reactions such as electrolyte disturbances, nausea and vomiting and heart irregularities involving energy drinks. The incidents involved improper use of energy drinks such as drinking them with alcohol or drinking them in greater quantities than recommended.

If you choose to use an energy drink be aware of the following:

the amount of caffeine in one can of Red Bull is approximately the daily limit of caffeine for a pre-teen
the label of Red Bull suggests a limit of no more than two cans per day
the label of Red Bull reads Not recommended for children
Health Canada does not recommend mixing Red Bull with alcohol

There are many other energy drinks on the market which have not been evaluated by Health Canada; it is wise to read the label and contact a health professional if you have questions.

Bottom Line: If you are looking for improved energy and concentration then consider the benefits of regular meals and snacks and adequate consumption of water throughout the day. Adequate sleep and regular activity are also important.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *