Does coffee stunt your growth? Especially if you are a kid?

Does coffee stunt your growth

Does coffee stunt your growth?  This is a common questions amongst frequent coffee drinkers, particular amongst parents worried about teenager kids. So is this true? We seek to explore this question and find out more about it.

Can Coffee Stunt your Growth?

Being such a popular drink, it’s only natural that coffee is surrounded by certain claims. One of these myths is that coffee stunts your growth.

This claim seems scary enough to have mothers hovering over their children in order to keep them away from giving into temptation.

The fact is that, while this old wives tale has been around, there are no valid scientific evidence that proves drinking coffee has any effect on height.

Why Does Coffee Stunt Growth?

But, all myths must start somewhere right? How did this myth begin? It’s not known where or who started this false claim, but some experts believe it has something to do with caffeine and its relationship to osteoporosis-which can lead to loss of bone mass and eventual loss in height.

The reasoning behind this myth resulted from early studies that suggested too much caffeine intake was linked to reduced bone mass.

What is Osteoporosis?

Before we look at any relationship between coffee consumption and an increase risk of bone loss, let us look at what osteoporosis is.

Osteoporosis is a common disorder affecting the bones. We usually associate osteoporosis with the elderly, but it can happen to young people as well, due to certain medical conditions and genetic factors.

Osteoporosis, literally means porous bone, and occurs when the body makes too little bone or loses too much bone, or both.

This bone loss leads to bones becoming brittle or weak making fractures happen easily. Some usual sign of osteoporosis are:

  • Breakage of bones, this is usually the first indication of osteoporosis
  • Some patients may notice they are getting shorter (shrinking)
  • Curving forward of the spine

Some risk factors for osteoporosis include

  • Reduced bone mineral density
  • Low body mass index. A low BMI has been linked to an increased risk of bone fracture
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Lack of physical activity

Possible Effects Of Caffeine And Osteoporosis

The supposed claim that coffee consumption will lead to a hindered or stunt growth, was made on the grounds that caffeine causes bone loss. Let’s take a more scientific approach in debunking this myth.

Although caffeine consumption in excess has been suggested to be a risk factor for developing osteoporosis, research is somewhat inconsistent.

A study looking at caffeine as a risk factor for bone loss in the elderly, observed that consuming caffeine greatly increase urinary calcium loss. This loss in calcium is not compensated for in the twenty four hours after caffeine consumption.

But, the same effect was not seen in younger individual. In fact, younger people can increase their calcium absorption, which helps to make up for the urinary calcium loss. Furthermore, it should be mentioned that the study suggested that bone loss in the elderly population is not exclusive to caffeine, but to multiple factors, such as genetics or lifestyle.

Another study that looked at the association between coffee consumption and bone status in young adults found no significant link between caffeine and bone status. The authors of this study included that while continuous drinking of one or more servings of coffee per day in young adult males may contribute to bone loss, after adjusting their data for confounding effects, such as age, effect of carbohydrate beverages on bone metabolism, etc., this association became insignificant. So despite initial results that showed a possible link in drinking coffee and developing bones loss, in the end this theory was disproved.

The effect of dietary caffeine intake by females between the ages of twelve and eighteen, and its role on bone mass was observed in another study. In this interesting study, the cohort was divided into three groups. Group one consumed less than 25 mg of caffeine per day, group two consumed between 25-50 mg of caffeine per day and group three consumed more than 50 mg of caffeine per day. The results showed that once more, there was no significant difference among the three groups for total body bone mineral gain.

Role Of Dietary Calcium In Bone Health

Calcium plays a crucial role in bone development. Approximately 99% of the calcium in our body is found in bone. Calcium is regulated by vitamin D. When the body is deficient in vitamin D, bone metabolism is affected due to reduced calcium absorption.

Calcium is found in dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, as well as meat and some vegetables. Calcium is critical for bone structure, tissue rigidity and strength.

But should we be concerned about coffee consumption negating effects of calcium? Some studies link caffeine consumption with reduced bone mass- possibly related to the urinary calcium loss and subsequent decrease in calcium absorption. Overtime, having less calcium in the body could result in bone loss.

The good news however, is that although caffeine may reduce calcium absorption, the amount is negligible and can easily be made up for by adding 1-2 tablespoons of milk to your cup of coffee.

Can Drinking Coffee Really Stunt Your Growth?

So, what does all this evidence tell us?

Being the second most common caffeinated drink among adolescents, there has been much debate over coffee’s safety in the younger population, and whether it will affect their bone growth has been speculated.

While some studies suggest a mild association between caffeine intake and reduced calcium absorption, the reduction in calcium absorption is insignificant, and can easily be counter-balanced by adding 1-2 tablespoons of milk to every 180ml of coffee.

From these evidences, it appears that the myth is overrated. Coffee does not stunt your growth.

Blaming coffee for height loss is a fallacy. It’s important to mention that most growth occurs well before people start drinking coffee, and by the time we are teenagers, we have reached our full height. Whether or not you decide to drink coffee will not affect your height.

That’s great. Now I can drink my coffee, without thinking of this question again. Will coffee stunt your growth… happy coffee-ing

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