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Brewing Nutrients

Filed Under: Baby and Child Health at 4:34 pm | By: Susan Coyle, Senior Editor
CoffeeSupplying children with all necessary nutrients is a trial, particularly in impoverished areas where food options are limited. Therefore, researchers and health experts are constantly attempting to find new ways to slip extra antioxidants and vitamins into children’s diets. The latest idea involves Mexico, coffee, folic acid and iron. By adding the latter two to a cup of coffee and handing it out in elementary schools in Mexico, nutritionists believe that they can significantly improve the health of some of the nation’s most malnourished children. But is this really the best method?

A lot of people think that it’s not. They are uncomfortable with the idea of giving children a steaming cup of caffeine every morning, and for good reason. Caffeine can cause the jitters, an upset stomach and headaches. It makes sleeping, concentrating and behaving more difficult and raises heart rate and blood pressure. The younger a child is the more likely these symptoms are to occur. So doling out the stimulant right before class doesn’t really make sense, unless these kids would drink it regardless.

And that’s the point defenders of fortified coffee are making. Many of the targeted kids consume a cup of coffee or more, daily. The caffeine is already present in their systems. Handing out the beverage, then, won’t be creating a caffeine problem. Of course, it won’t be lessening it either but that might be a sacrifice that has to be made. Folic acid and iron are needed for proper growth and development. In an area overrun by poverty and malnourishment, you occasionally have to settle for lesser evils until overall goods can be gained. It’s not a clear-cut issue; in fact, it’s as cloudy as a milky cup of coffee. The question is, what do you think?


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