Caffeine: Not for Children!

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Just a week or so ago I read a post about school children drinking PRIME Energy for lunch and wanted to share an important message for parents:  Caffeine is not for children!

“There is currently an FDA investigation launched in July into Prime’s marketing/targeting children on social media. Since Prime is new, I fear most parents aren’t aware of how much caffeine it contains” stated Basheerah Enahora, Assistant Professor, Nutrition Education & Behavior Specialist at NC State University.

Prime drinks contain 200mg of caffeine, which is about two cups of brewed coffee. Pediatricians recommend children under age 12 avoid caffeine completely and older consume up to 100mg per day. How do you know what is in packaged food and beverages? Read NUTRITION FACTS labels to know what you and your children are purchasing and ultimately consuming.

What is caffeine?

Caffeine is a compound found naturally in some plants and added to food, drinks, and supplements, and it works by stimulating the brain. It is considered to be in the psychostimulant group of substances, which is any substance with mood-enhancing and stimulant properties. They increase activity in the body’s nervous system. Substances such as cocaine, methamphetamines, epinephrine, nicotine, and many ADHD medications, known as amphetamines, also fall into this category.

For about 85% of adults, caffeine gets us up and moving (and keeps us moving) through the day. We don’t think much about consuming several cups of coffee or a Red Bull now and then. Many studies have been performed to examine the safest levels of daily caffeine consumption for adults, but what about youth? Observations in the schools show that youth are consuming increasing amounts of caffeine and think nothing about it. Most of the caffeinated beverages they are chugging are also packed full of sugar. The two of these together make a dangerous combination.

Sodas are no longer an issue – it’s energy drinks. There’s a new one in particular that is being marketed to the younger demographic through social media, Logan Paul x KSI’s PRIME Hydration Drink. With flavors matching popular popsicles and fruits and having the caffeine equivalent to six cans of Coca-Cola or two Red Bulls, these popular drinks are starting to draw the attention of parents, school officials, and doctors.

Check out why the FDA has been asked to investigate PRIME energy drinks:

  • Schools in other states are prohibiting the drinks during school hours.
  • According to the label Prime Hydration drinks shouldn’t be consumed by children under 15 years old. Prime Energy drinks shouldn’t be consumed by children under 18 years old.
  • Prime hydration is sugar-free but uses sucralose and acesulfame as sugar substitutes, which are known to have a laxative effect. The amounts in these drinks can have a laxative effect on children, but not in adults.
  • CAFFEINE: Prime Energy contains over 200mg of caffeine per can. 12-18 year old youth should limit to 100mg of caffeine per day
  • Side effects of too much Caffeine: anxiety, dehydration, diarrhea, heart palpations, high blood pressure, insomnia, jitters, nausea, and restlessness.

So what should we serve children to drink?

We encourage water and 100% juice and milk consumption for  children, youth and adults every day.

With no added sugar and virtually no calories, fruit infused water has become a popular way to increase water intake. There are many health benefits of drinking infused water including appetite control, hydration, immune defense, heartburn prevention, blood sugar regulation, and weight management. By infusing water, we enhance the flavor and enjoy consuming more water.

As in any food or beverage preparation, do not forget to wash your hands with soap and water before handling the food. Before preparing your infused water always wash your produce under cold water to remove any dirt. Never use soap or detergent to wash produce and cut away any damaged or bruised areas on the produce. Finally, store leftover fresh-cut items in the refrigerator for best quality and food safety measures. Infused water could be served immediately after it is mixed, but it will not have the maximum amount of flavor. To boost flavor infusion you may want to squeeze or macerate the produce as you place it in the water. It is recommended that the Infused Water is chilled in the refrigerator from 30 minutes to overnight for optimum flavor.

This recipe for Cucumber Citrus Water will give you a trace of nutrients from the fruits but will be enticing to your sight and taste.

Cucumber Citrus Water serves 8

Citrus and Cucumber Infused Water

Citrus and Cucumber Infused Water

  • 1 cucumber, sliced
  • 1 orange, sliced
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 1 cup ice
  • 64 oz water

Add cucumber, orange, and lime to a 2-quart drinking pitcher. Top with ice and then add water. May be served at once. However, for more flavor, chill for 30 minutes or more before serving.

Nutritional Information: Serving size 1 cup, 11 Cal, 3g Carbs, 1g Fiber

The following recipe for infused water is great to serve in a clear pitcher during a gathering with friends and family to again entice your eyes with vibrant colors of the fruit-infused water. Helpful tip: The longer you let this beverage chill in the fridge the stronger the flavor.

Strawberry Mint Water serves 8

Strawberry Mint Flavored Wate

Strawberry Mint Flavored Wate

  • 1 cup strawberries, halved
  • 4 sprigs mint
  • 1 cup ice
  • 64 oz water

Add halved strawberries to a 2-quart drinking pitcher. Slightly twist mint sprigs to release flavor and then add to drinking pitcher. Top with ice and then add water. For more flavor, chill for 30 minutes or more before serving

Nutritional Information: Serving size 1 cup, 6 Cal, 1g Carbs, 10mg Sodium

Please remember that to gain the most nutritional benefits from fruits and vegetables, it is recommended that you eat the produce. While infused water is a wonderful way to stay hydrated, the fruits and vegetables added for flavor will not count as your servings of fruits or vegetables for the day. The next time you are slicing produce to eat, consider adding a handful to your water pitcher. Infused water is low-cost by using small amounts of produce. It is so easy to make, and there is not a right or wrong recipe to try or invent, it would be great to get the entire family involved!

Dairy foods offer important nutrition for you and your family.

Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods to get the calcium and vitamin D your body needs for strong teeth and bones. If you can’t drink milk, try calcium-fortified soymilk (soy beverage), low-fat yogurt, cheese, or calcium-enriched foods. Adults and children who need 2,000 calories daily should eat or drink about 3 cups of dairy each day.

Serve different types of dairy such as: • 1 cup of low-fat milk on cereal  (counts as 1 cup of dairy) •½ cup of calcium-fortified soymilk with your meal (counts as ½ cup of dairy) • 1 cup of low-fat plain yogurt (counts as 1 cup of dairy) • 1 slice (1 ounce) of low-fat cheddar cheese on a sandwich (counts as ½ cup of dairy).


Make the switch to low-fat and fat-free milk. Some kids and adults may need to make the change from full-fat dairy slowly. First, switch from whole to 2% milk (reduced-fat). Later, change to low-fat (1%) or skim (fat-free) milk.

Keep dairy food on your shopping list.

Keep a list of dairy foods that your family will eat such as low-fat milk or yogurt. Check online and look at your grocery receipt for coupons to help you save more on dairy foods. Use low-fat plain yogurt for toppings and sauces. Some foods are not part of the dairy food group, like cream, sour cream, cream cheese, and butter. They are high in solid fat and have little or no calcium.

There are alternatives to drinking milk to get your dietary calcium.

If you don’t or can’t drink cow’s milk, fortified soymilk is a great choice. Add a little cheese to meals and snacks. Look for lower fat cheeses like part-skim mozzarella, or reduced-fat Swiss or cheddar. Serve low-fat choices with foods like sliced cucumbers, apples, or 100% whole-grain crackers.

Show kids that dairy is important.

Make a point to eat and drink dairy foods daily. Chocolate milk, flavored yogurt, frozen yogurt, and pudding have calcium but also a lot of added sugar. Serve them on special days and less often.

Sources for this article NC Extension Food and Nutrition and NC State University Extension Specialist.. For more information about the Foods and Nutrition please contact Louise L. Hinsley, Extension Agent, Family Consumer Science at the Beaufort County Center of N.C. Cooperative Extension, 155 Airport Road, Washington, 252-946-0111.