Fact Check: Coffee and short stature

Can coffee really stunt your growth?


The Accusation:

Coffee will stunt your growth

The Case:

I bet you’ve heard someone say to you that drinking coffee, as someone who is still growing, will stunt your growth. How did this mentality come about you ask? First we have to start talking about your skeleton. The nutrient called calcium is essential to maintaining healthy bones and keeping them strong. Your body absorbs calcium through the small intestine and it is used to strengthen and maintain your bones as you grow.

So how does calcium and your skeleton relate to coffee? Studies done concluded that the caffeine contained in coffee impaired calcium absorption and contributed to osteoporosis, which is the thinning of bone tissue and the loss of bone density over time. This causes the bones to become brittle and allows them to become damaged more easily.

According to Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. of Harvard Medical School, for MSN Health & Fitness, even if drinking coffee inhibits calcium absorption and causes bone density loss, it is by a very small

amount and can be offset by increasing your calcium intake.

This point is further illustrated by a 1988-1991 study done by the University of California, San Diego Department of Family and Preventive Medicine. It found that women aged 50-98 years who drank caffeinated coffee most of their lives had increased bone density loss, but the women who reported drinking at least a glass of milk each day along with the coffee had virtually no loss of bone density.

So don’t worry, coffee has not been proven to stunt your growth. Don’t be afraid to drink that coffee in the morning to stay awake in class, but remember to increase how much calcium you eat according to how much coffee you drink. Calcium can be found in most dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt. It can also be found in green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and broccoli.

Even though coffee is not proven to stunt your growth, you should not rely on the caffeine in it.

According to the Mayo Clinic, drinking four or more cups of coffee (400-500 mg of caffeine) every day can cause insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, irritability, stomach upset, fast heartbeat and muscle tremors. However the cost does not involve only your health, it involves your wallet as well. If yo

u buy one cup of coffee every day for a year at around $1.71 a cup plus tax, you can expect to pay at least $574.56. If you buy mixed coffee drinks every day that cost one or two dollars more, well, you do the math.

The Verdict:

There is no conclusive evidence that suggests coffee stunts your growth, but the caffeine contained in coffee can cause dangerous side effects if consumed in excess.


About Dominique Hlavac

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