Food science expert Budge Collinson says the energy drinks guzzled by kids on a daily basis don't actually give the body energy; they simply stimulate it with brief jolts of caffeine and unregulated ingredients. “For a few moments, you'll get that spike, but it's a short-term experience with a heavy long-term toll,” he explains. Some of the side effects commonly associated with these beverages include anxiety, hypertension, elevated heart rate, disrupted sleep, and headaches—so he offers these tips instead for a healthier energy boost.
• Go for a speedy bike ride, take a brisk walk, or hold foot-races in the yard. Exercise pumps more oxygen—pure, healthy fuel—into the bloodstream and to the brain and muscles for a short-term energy boost. Exercising regularly will increase lung capacity, so the body will get more oxygen on a sustained level for the long term. Exercise also releases endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemical, which makes us happy—and happy people are energized people!
• Seek nutrition from a variety of sources. As humans, we need more than 40 vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies functioning optimally. There is no single food that contains them all, so it is important for children and adults to eat a variety, including as many different vegetables and fruits as possible. Adding a daily multivitamin supplement with essentials such as CoQ10, arginine, theanine, resveratrol, and magnesium can help ensure bodies young and old are running at top speed.
• Drink plenty of water—the natural energy drink. Even mild dehydration can leave us feeling listless. Remind kids to drink water because they not only need more water than adults (because they expend more energy), but also may not recognize when they’re slightly thirsty. Parents, too, often don’t recognize the signs of dehydration; a national survey of more than 800 parents of kids aged 1 month to 10 years found that more than half feel they don’t know enough about dehydration. A quick, light pinch of the skin on the child’s hand or arm is an easy check. If the skin is slow to resume a smooth appearance, the child is likely at least mildly dehydrated.