Green tea has become increasingly popular over the last few decades because of its numerous health benefits. It is surprising though to note that kids don’t often consume green tea. It is only in Japan where some grade schools offer kids plenty of green tea to drink from the water faucets, not forgetting their foods (for lunch) that include green tea recipes.
As a parent, you could be planning to introduce green tea to your kids or teens but have some doubts. You might be asking yourself, can kids or toddlers drink green tea? Or what possible side effects can kids experience from consuming green tea? If such questions are lingering in your mind, then this article provides all the answers you need. Just keep reading.
What Fuels Green Tea’s Safety Doubts on Kids
Green tea is usually brewed by boiling or steeping leaves of Camellia sinensis plant in reasonably hot water. In other cases, green tea may come in the form of extracts, used as medicine. The major concern though associated with green tea is the caffeine, which is naturally occurring in the Camellia sinensis plant.
The amount of caffeine in such green teas as high-grade Matcha, Gyokuro, Konacha, Kukicha and others, wouldn’t be more than 50g in an 8 oz tea. It is important to understand that a normal cup of coffee and energy drinks, each 8 oz, have caffeine amounts going beyond 100g. That means the effects of consuming green teas (as a result of caffeine) are minimized.
However, the question still begs, is green tea safe for kids? Now, we’ll give you a straight up answer.
Green tea consists of many substances, key among them being Caffeine, L-theamine and EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate).These three substances work synergistically, providing powerful antioxidant effects to users. Research has shown that the antioxidants in green tea are 25 times and 100 times more powerful than Vitamin E and Vitamin C respectively.
So yes, kids can safely drink green tea, just like adults.
A Closer Look at the Benefits of Drinking Green Tea for Kids
There are innumerable benefits that kids can enjoy from consuming green tea. But the main ones include the following:
1. Lots of Antioxidants
Green tea is loaded with powerful antioxidants that play an important role in fighting cancerous cells in the body (1). These antioxidants (which clear the body of free radicals) work the same way for both adults and kids. So, inculcating a culture of drinking green tea among children is a huge step towards cancer prevention in the upcoming generations.
Green tea has been shown to lower the risks of the following types of cancer:
- Esophageal (throat
- Colorectal (bowel)
2. Improved Calmness and Alertness
Green tea is rich L-theanine, a natural relaxant that counteracts the effects of caffeine (2). This component will mitigate the effects of caffeine like tension, jitters and/or agitation. But since these two components-Ltheanine and caffeine- work in synergy, you can enjoy a state of calm alertness.
So a kid who has consumed green tea will be relaxed yet alert. He/she will also not experience energy hype and/or crash but will instead get steady energy. Now, isn’t that great for kids who are in a classroom, ready to learn new things and interact with others?
3. Reduced Anxiety and Increased Attention Span
Several studies have indicated that green tea has some positive effects on the cognitive abilities of human beings. That’s manifested in the cognition, mood and brain function. Caffeine in the tea no doubt improves focus and alertness.
But when combined with L-theanine, which has been shown to increase lpha-wave activity’, one can work with speed and accuracy. L-theanine also causes caffeine to be released to the body more slowly, something that allows one to enjoy longer attention spans (3).
4. May enhanced Memory
Numerous research studies have pointed to the fact that green tea enhances not just the brain’s cognitive function but may also its working memory. EGCG in green tea is said to increase neurogenesis in the memory formation structures of the human’s brain (4).
Researchers from China reported that ECGC in green tea triggers the formation of brain cells in the part called hippocampus. With enhanced hippocampal neurogenesis, once is able to directly enjoy improved learning and memory.
Swiss researchers, on the other hand, discovered that extracts from green tea can potentially increase neuroplasticity, between the frontal and parietal parts of the brain. This, in particular, strengthens the working memory. These are brain benefits that your kid should enjoy by consuming green tea.
Why Some Doctors Don’t Recommend Green Tea for Kids
There are no doubt many benefits that kids, just like adults, can enjoy from green tea consumption. But many doctors are weary of the side effects that might come with allowing kids to drink green tea (5). One of the concerns is that green tea contains caffeine. Excessive consumption among kids can cause hyperactivity, vomiting, irritability, irregular heartbeat and sleep problems.
Doctors also think that drinking green tea excessively among children can or may:
- Interfere with iron absorption, leading to anemia in growing children
- Interfere with certain medications, causing negative reactions
- Experience food allergy upon consuming green tea
- Interfere with absorption of thiamine, a mineral whose deficiency can lead to Beriberi
While these side effects are bound to be experienced by children, not all children can be affected. If kids in Japan grow up drinking green tea from younger ages, without suffering any side effects, it means the tea is as healthy as it comes. Perhaps the discussion on kids consuming green tea should be around what kind of green tea is the best and what amounts are recommended for kids of different ages.
Introducing green tea to children is something that can help them improve in many facets, especially their brain functionality. So the tea is recommended for kids of all ages. There might be growing concerns about the caffeine in the tea but the amounts are tiny and somewhat ineffectual, so parents don’t have to worry much. The kids also deserve the goodness that comes with green tea. So let the green tea drinking culture grow among kids.