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Are Energy Drinks OK for Teens?

Are Energy Drinks OK for Teens?

Drinking energy drinks regularly – at any age – can lead to increased anxiety, increased heart rate and blood pressure, hyperactivity, inattention, sleep disturbances, and weight gain.

For young people, it’s been shown that they may become dependent on energy drinks, or experience symptoms like headaches, irritability or fatigue after the effect wears off. The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that they avoid energy drinks, while some states have even proposed are laws to prohibit kids under age 16 from purchasing energy drinks. Yet, the appeal is still there, and 30-50% of tweens and teens report that they have consumed them.

The general consensus is that if teens do consume caffeine, limit it to 50-100 mg/day (for adults, that jumps to 400 mg). Teens with heart conditions, liver disease, anxiety, and sleep disorders should do their best to avoid caffeine. Here are some common sources of caffeine:

  • Energy drinks range from 50-505 mg per serving
  • 8-oz. cup of coffee: 95 mg (a venti coffee at Starbucks is 400 mg)
  • 8-oz. cup of tea: 50 mg
  • 12-oz. of soda: 34 mg

The jolt of sugar and caffeine combined can affect your blood sugar, which is particularly worrisome if you have insulin sensitivity or diabetes. Rockstar, one popular energy drink, has 63 g of sugar, while Monster Energy drinks have 54 g. Some newer options have emerged with less sugar, like Starbucks’ Baya Energy drinks, but still, it has 23 g in one 12-oz. can, which is comparable to Red Bull’s 27 g of sugar. For comparison, a regular 12-oz. Coca-Cola has 39 g of sugar.

Another thing to keep in mind is the danger of mixing energy drinks with alcohol, which is very common in young adults. The two cancel each other’s effects out and could lead to overconsumption. The CDC reports that people who mix the two beverages are four times more likely to binge drink. Because caffeine acts as a diuretic, dehydration is also a concern.

Though they can sound like just the quick fix you need, typically the boost you feel from an energy drink will be short lived. If you really need some caffeine, try the safer alternative of coffee, black or green tea. Be sure to get enough sleep, eat well and stay active, as that is the best bet to keep up your energy levels long-term.