WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – A teenager in South Carolina died last month from what the coroner blames on too much caffeine. The tragedy leaves many parents wondering how much is too much, especially with the proliferation of energy drinks where caffeine is usually the active ingredient.
This time of year high school and college students are spending hours studying for final exams – a time when many reach for an energy boost. But too much caffeine can be dangerous and even deadly.
Davis Cripe, 16, died at his South Carolina high school last month after he drank a large pop, a latte and an energy drink in less than two hours. That led to what the coroner called a cardiac event.
Steward Health Care Dietitian Miranda Monroe said there really aren’t any recommendations for caffeine consumption, but it is important to limit how much teens are having.
“I would say that for most adolescents if they maybe want to drink a cup of coffee in the morning that would be appropriate, but they shouldn’t be relying on caffeine throughout the day to increase their alertness or to stay awake for studying or things like that,” Monroe said.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the most adults can safely consume is 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is about four 8-ounce cups of coffee.
Monroe said caffeine has many side effects, including increased heart rate, irritability, stomach problems, and migraines. Rather than depending on caffeine, Monroe suggests drug-free ways for kids to get the energy they need.
“They should be eating a well-balanced diet, getting regular amounts of sleep – consistent amounts per night, at least seven or more hours. If they’re not getting those things, caffeine is not going to make them perform any better,” Monroe said.
The FDA does not require labels to show how much caffeine is in energy drinks. The American Beverage Association says those drinks actually have less caffeine than most coffee drinks but shouldn’t be consumed together in a short amount of time.