Plain and simple, caffeine is a drug, no matter what age or in what manner you ingest it. It is America's No. 1 drug, with 90 percent of American adults consuming caffeine on a daily basis, according to LiveScience.com. The stimulant effects of caffeine can take hold at any age, but the depth of influence it has over your body can differ with age.
Caffeine and Age
As your age increases, so does your body's sensitivity to caffeine, according to LiveScience.com. This may be because of the speed of metabolism. Children and younger adults have the benefit of a faster metabolism, which also means that caffeine is metabolized and out of the body quicker in this population than in older people.
Children, Adolescents and Preteens
The effects of caffeine can be negative for adolescents and preteens, according to a study reported in the "Journal of Pediatrics" in 2010. Researchers report that, on average, 5- to 7-year-olds take in about 52 mg of caffeine per day, or about one soda. However, intake increases significantly to the equivalent of about three sodas by the time the children reach 8 to 12 years of age. Such a large intake of caffeine is offsetting the sleep habits of children. The more caffeine youngsters consume, the less sleep they get, which may eventually lead to other health problems.
On the other hand, caffeine may have a beneficial effect on older people. According to a study published in the "Journal of Applied Physiology" in 2005, caffeine can improve the functioning of adults 75 years and older. When compared with a placebo, caffeine improved endurance, balance and fatigue in the 30 men and women tested.
Precautions and Warnings
There are side effects of caffeine that can affect you at any age. Caffeine can increase your heart rate and blood pressure. Your age, medication use and medical history may dictate just how safe it is for you to consume caffeine. In general, consuming around 200 mg of caffeine per day is safe for most adults, according to the Mayo Clinic. Speak with your doctor about the safety of caffeine intake for you. And, if you're a parent, work on cutting back your child's caffeine habit by reading labels, keeping caffeine out of the house and educating your child.
- Live Science; Does Caffeine Sensitivity Increase With Age?; Fred Cicetti; March 2010
- "U.S.News & World Report "; Kids Are Getting Amped on Caffeine, Even at Age 5; Nancy Shute; December 2010
- "Journal of Applied Physiology"; Caffeine Improves Endurance In 75-Yr-Old Citizens: A Randomized, Double Blind, Placebo Controlled, Crossover Study; C.B. Norager, et al.; July 2005