Does Coffee Stunt Your Growth? Here’s Your Answer

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Coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide. Wherever we go, there seems to be coffee shops in sight. Its popularity mostly is because of its energy-boosting effect that comes with its delicious taste and experience.

Did you know that adults in the US within the age range of 18-25 drink coffee the most than any other caffeinated drinks? That includes soft drinks, teas, and energy drinks. Just imagine that. And among these consumers, adolescents are found to have coffee as their second most consumed caffeinated beverage, after energy drinks.

There has been a notion that coffee stunts the growth of adolescents. The question is: is this true?

Does caffeine stunt your growth?

Growing up, my grandparents made me stray away from coffee because they told me that it can hinder my growth in height. However, up until today, this information is not backed up by evidence. 

For a span of six years, one study followed 81 women of ages 12 to 18. The study compared the bone health between those who had the highest daily caffeine dose compared to those with the lowest. The study found no difference.

As to where the myth has started remains to be a mystery, but it was said that the culprit for this is the caffeine found in coffee.

There have been research studies that revealed a correlation between intake of caffeine and reduced absorption of calcium, which we know to be vital for our bone health. Therefore, to say that there is absolutely no truth to this claim is questionable.

Although this is the case the reported reduction in calcium absorption for those with high caffeine intake is not as significant that it can be solved by simply adding 1-2 tablespoons of milk to every 6-ounce (180 mL) cup of coffee.

With this, we believe that ingestion of coffee is not linked to growth stunt.

Take a look at some faqs regarding stunt growth in general:

Does coffee make you shorter or taller?

Coffee contains caffeine that stuns your growth. Growing teens were warned for a while that drinking coffee would stun their progress. As mentioned, there is no evidence, however, that drinking coffee affects height. This should answer if it effects your growth rate.

Can you stunt your growth?

Stunting is the impaired growth and development experienced by insufficient nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Children are classified as stunted if they have more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median.

What really stops you from growing?

The entire skeleton does not stop growing simultaneously; hands and feet stop first, then arms and legs, with the last region of development being the spine. Growth slows down and ceases when a child has gone through puberty and entered adult maturity.

What age do you stop growing?

Even if you hit puberty late, you’re unlikely to develop dramatically after 18-20 years. Most boys hit peak height around age 16. But men grow well into their twenties in other ways.

Can you get shorter?

Unfortunately, this list will add height. According to some studies, we will begin to shrink as early as our 30s. Men may steadily lose an inch between the ages of 30-70, and women may lose around 2 inches. After being 80, both men and women will lose another inch.

Other caffeine-related health issues

Although we have already established that coffee does not induce any hindrance to your growth, let’s now tackle the other health problems associated with it.

Sleep deprivation

Caffeine is indeed an energy booster, but it may also affect your sleep cycle. Coffee is said to stay in a young person’s body a lot longer as compared to an adult, thus, possibly interrupting sleep if taken later in the day.

In a research study, sleep patterns and caffeine-intake, including food and other beverages, of 191 middle schoolers were examined. It revealed that caffeine intake in this population ranged from 0 to 800 mg per day. This study also showed that for those ingesting higher amounts of caffeine, disrupted sleep at night and significant daytime sleepiness were reported.

Moreover, adolescents were found to perform poorly academically when sleep deprived. Additionally, this same group reported higher caloric and sugar consumption, playing a role in the growing problem of childhood obesity.

Sugar-packed coffee

A lot of coffee beverages in the market contain huge amounts of sugar usually in the form of shaved chocolate, whipped cream, flavored sugar syrups, and the like.

An increase in added sugar intake may lead to higher glucose levels than natural sugar because fruits and vegetables that contain high natural sugar contain fiber and other essential nutrients that help limit the bad effects of it. Excessive added sugar consumption may pose health risks, such as heart disease, obesity, and other serious health conditions.

The American Heart Association suggests to limit children’s added sugar intake up to 6 teaspoons (about 25 grams) per day only. This is where the problem lies, a single sugary coffee drink may contain 66 grams of added sugar and 500 calories. 

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Benefits of coffee

Let’s now tackle the more positive side of caffeine. Coffee contains some components that may induce some health benefits.

  • Caffeine can improve exercise performance due to its stimulating effects. It is also reported to decrease the risk for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Chlorogenic acid is an antioxidant found in coffee. Antioxidants function to protect our cells from injury. This antioxidant is also said to aid in weight loss.
  • Diterpenes is a group of compounds that possess anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Some in vitro studies also suggest that diterpenes may contain anti-malignant properties.
  • Trigonelline was found to decrease blood glucose levels and aid in diabetic-induced nerve damage as seen in studies done in diabetic mice.

In a systematic review of 201 studies, it was found that drinking coffee was shown to play a role with lower cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, and kidney disease risks, Although this indeed is great news, the method of the studies are observational, thus, weakening the findings.

For full health benefits of coffee. read me

Safe coffee consumption

A safe amount of coffee to consume in adults is up to 400 mg of caffeine daily. This is about four to five cups of 8-ounce (240 mL) of coffee.

However, safe recommendations differ with other populations, especially with children and pregnant women. Take note that the recommended intake also includes caffeine from sources other than coffee, such as chocolate, tea, soda, and energy drinks.

Teens and young adults. Is it OK for kids to drink coffee?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends caffeine intake of up to 100 mg daily, equating to one 8-ounce cup of coffee for 12-18 year-old teenagers.

On the other hand, Health Canada suggests the following caffeine limits:

  • 4 to 6 years: 45 mg/day
  • 7 to 9 years: 62.5 mg/day
  • 10 to 12 years: 85 mg/day
  • 12 to 18 years: 2.5 mg/kg of body weight/day

Pregnant women

The US Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada recommend a limit of caffeine intake of up to 300 mg per day among breastfeeding and pregnant women. This is equivalent to 2 to 3 cups daily.

Caffeine intake of above 300 mg daily was found to be correlated with a higher miscarriage and low birth weight risks.

Bone health optimization

Although an individual’s height largely depends on his genes, poor diet and malnutrition may lead to stunted growth in the younger population. This is why proper nutrition and regular exercise in the adolescent years may help in the prevention of bone diseases and fractures in later years.

Majority of the population achieve their maximum bone strength in their late teenage years to around early twenties, thus, it is best to strengthen the bones during adolescence.

Nutrition

Vitamin D and calcium play huge roles in bone health. 

Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the body supporting bone structure and function. Did you know that 99% of your calcium supply in your body is primarily stored in your teeth and bones?

Another good source of vitamin D is sunlight so make sure to get your daily dose of sun exposure for that vitamin D goodness!

Moreover, calcium is found in a lot of food, especially in dairy and milk products. Vitamin D, on the other hand, is not found in a lot of food types. However, there are types of food fortified with vitamin D such as milk, yogurt, orange juice, and breakfast cereals.

Resistance training

Lifting weights impose stress and load on your muscles, and when this happens, your muscles respond by growing stronger and larger. Therefore, if no stress is subjected to your muscles, they will stay stagnant, and may even grow weaker.

The same concept also goes with the bones. Lifting weights induce stress on your bones causing them to be a lot stronger and resilient. 

School-aged children are advised to undergo resistance training using only free weights, elastic tubing, weight machines, and their own body weight. Safety measures are of vital importance.

Which exercise stops height?

It’s not. Don’t let fear stop you being involved. Pull-ups, pushups, squats and ab crunches help shape your figure. Needless to say, any form of exercise, including strength exercises, can have negative effects if done improperly.

Can exercise make you taller?

Exercise and sport will help you stay safe and produce strong muscles, but in the end it won’t make you stronger than your genes say you’ll be. Occasionally, an inexplicably short case comes along.

Final thoughts

Despite the notion that coffee induces stunted growth, there’s no single evidence to back this up. However, this does not mean that adolescents should just go and indulge in caffeinated drinks. Excessive coffee consumption may lead to sleep disruption and excessive blood sugar levels.

So, the best thing to do is to ensure to practice consuming coffee within the recommended limits discussed above. Additionally, you can never go wrong with regular exercise and healthy diet.

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Self-proclaimed coffee drinker. I would, on a typical day, start my day by grinding my coffee with a manual grinder and use a French Press as a starter (2 cups), then a pour-over in the afternoon (4 cups). I had my fair share as a barista but I prefer to drink it, not serve it.