Do Energy Drinks Pose Health Threats to Kids?

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Even though most kids look as if they only have two speeds, “turbo” and “sleep”, full nights of sleep and healthy diets aren’t always enough. Sometimes life gets in the way. If this sounds familiar to you, and you’re tempted to let your kiddos have one of the many energy drinks on the market to give them some extra pep, understand the dangers and alternatives first.

The Facts

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recommends no more than 300 mg of caffeine a day for adults (a cup of coffee is generally only 150 mg). Most energy drinks contain on average 300-400 mg of caffeine. Sodas generally only contain 35-55 mg of caffeine. A study found that in children under 12, 2.5 milligrams per every 2.2 pounds of body weight can be quite harmful.

The Alternatives

If your child is really lagging behind, energy-wise, and a jammed pack schedule or travel is stealing away sleep time, there are other options for helping them get that spark back. You don’t have to resort to the high sugar and caffeine sodas and energy drinks, no matter how appealing their commercials and advertisements are.

Green Smoothie

green smoothie for kids

These fun drinks are great because you know your kiddo will also be getting their veggies, but you won’t have to endure their “icky” face as they dump it down the drain. Kids have high metabolisms to easily burn dark greens such as kale, spinach and parsley. These super greens provide essential B vitamins that pack a powerful energy punch. The best way to lighten up the earthy flavor of dark greens are with sweet fruits such as apples, bananas, strawberries, mangoes and pineapple.

Green Tea

flavored green tea for kids

Green tea only holds 25 mg of caffeine per 8 fl. oz., which is a lot less than a cup of coffee or soda. Now that you have the formula for calculating how much caffeine is appropriate for your child’s body weight, you can decide if this option is worth it. Green tea is also known for improving mental clarity and performance. Even though green tea isn’t the tastiest, it can be added to juices to hide the flavor.

Protein Shakes

chocolate milkshake for your kid

Protein is a great way to boost energy and shakes are great for on the go or if your kiddo is not a big meat eater. (Oh yes, there are plenty of kids who aren’t!) However, emptying a packet of powder into a blender of juice won’t be enough. Protein needs carbohydrates as its vehicle to be absorbed by the body and boosted. Add wheat germ, fruit, or quinoa for that extra boost. Also, if you aren’t thrilled with any of the powders out there you can also find sources of protein in soy milk or yogurt. Here are five protein packed milkshake recipes.

Water

keep your kids hydrated

When our system is dehydrated everything runs slower and we lose so much energy just trying to keep up. Even kids will suffer from this in the same respect, and will seem sluggish. So, keep those little ones hydrated on lots of water. If they don’t like the “no flavor” taste, then add a splash of juice for fun.

Remember, energy drinks contain nearly too much caffeine for adults. If your child is struggling with energy during a busy day, try these healthy on the go drink options.

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