Is it OK for teens to drink coffee
Is it OK for teens to drink coffee? – Lucy G., Arlington, Virginia
When my daughter was around 14 years old, she began to ask if she could have a cup of coffee in the morning like Mom and Dad. As a scientist who studies the effects of caffeine – the ingredient in coffee that helps wake you up – on kids, I had more information available to me to inform my answer than most parents would.
Many kids and teens consume caffeine. The main source of this chemical is soda for children under 12. Even colas have lower levels of caffeine than tea or coffee.
Kids and teens can also get caffeine from many foods and drinks, including chocolate, chocolate milk and iced tea. What’s more, some over-the-counter medications that kids might take, such as Excedrin, are significant sources of caffeine. But coffee is the main source of caffeine among Americans 12 years and up.
Based on my years of research, I’m confident that one daily cup of coffee won’t harm kids over the age of 12 – as long as they avoid all other sources of caffeine.
That one cup of coffee combined with, say, a can of iced tea or soda, or a chocolate bar, could put kids over the daily limit of 100 milligrams of caffeine doctors recommend. Adults should aim for no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine, which they could get from four cups of coffee.
And since caffeine is in so many different foods and drinks, it’s easy for kids – or grownups – to get more than they should without realizing it.