COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - After Richland County Coroner Gary Watts revealed that a 16-year-old Spring Hill High School student died after too much caffeine intake caused a possible cardiac event, many are wondering how much caffeine is too much.
The Palmetto Poison Center says there are dangerous risks associated with consuming too much caffeine.
The center points to data from the Food and Drug Administration that says the typical adult can consume no more than 400mg of caffeine per day -- about 4 to 5 cups of coffee.
The FDA, however, does not have data for caffeine use in children. Instead, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids and adolescents consume no caffeine at all.
"While adults should be mindful of their caffeine consumption, it's important for parents to know the risks of children and adolescents consuming caffeine. Take the time to talk with your children about the dangers of caffeinated drinks," Jill Michels, Palmetto Poison Center director, said.
According to Watts, the teen in this case, Davis Cripe, consumed a Diet Mountain Dew, a McDonald's cafe latte, and an energy drink before his death.
"It was so much caffeine at the time of his death, that it caused his arrhythmia," he said.
Experts also point out that energy drinks often contain other stimulants like ginseng and guarana which can add to the effects of caffeine. And yet, many users have no problem with the lack of information.
"I think people generally have a perception that these are harmless beverages, that they're available and they can purchase them. And they like the way they make them feel. And I think that's part of the reason they like to use caffeine, any caffeine containing beverages. The heightened mental awareness, a sense of vigor. A sense of being alert," Dr. Mitchell Jacocks, a cardiologist, said.
We did see some medical findings raising concerns about high levels of some energy drink ingredients including Niacin or B-3 and vitamin B-6.