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Caffeinated beverages are preferred by millions presently over any other drink. Approximately 62% of American adults are regular coffee drinkers. Due to its popularity, there are also opinions on caffeine that might or might not be true.
One of the most sought-after queries is, does caffeine stunt your growth?
To answer shortly, in some ways. The possibilities of the same are explored below.
1. Does Caffeine Stunt your Growth for Real?
Caffeine can be found in tea, soda, chocolates, energy supplements, and coffee. These things are very actively consumed in our society; scientifically, there is no evidence to conclude that caffeine stunts growth. But if you dive deeper, there are things to consider before reaching that conclusion, such as age and gender.
1.1 Caffeine and Age
Low height is the most common understanding of the phrase ‘coffee stunts growth’. The origin of the rumor can be traced to the fact that some researchers have concluded that coffee can lead to osteoporosis (a condition related to loss of height).
This conclusion has been challenged by many other studies, according to whom there isn’t enough evidence to conclude, so, there haven’t been many studies performed on it, and coffee doesn’t lead to osteoporosis which itself doesn’t make anyone short routinely.
It is also a common understanding that after a point, your height is stable, and once you’ve reached that age, no amount of caffeine or other substance can reduce that. Humans stop growing after puberty, so height growth happens till 18-19 years old, which does not dominate the coffee-drinking age group.
The age group consists of adults, so children and teenagers can be said to avoid caffeine due to other health perspectives since a high amount of drinking coffee temporarily and a low amount for a long time is less likely to be harmful.
1.1.1 Before Puberty
Children before puberty i.e. 8-13 years old, are usually warned to avoid coffee with their parents and doctor. It’s because caffeine can lead to loss of calcium which in turn can cause osteoporosis.
But, if a child consumes limited coffee and has supplements that increase calcium, such as milk and vitamin D, it can reduce the calcium loss and hence won’t hamper growth. There isn’t any prescribed caffeine amount for children in America, but there is one in Canada. Health Canada recommends the following caffeine limits-
For kids between 4-6 years old a maximum of 45 mg, 62.5 mg for 7-9-year-olds, 85 mg for 10-12 years old, and for adolescents, it’s 100-120lbs then 115mg, similarly 140 mg for 121-150 lbs, 170 mg for 151-180 lbs, 200mg for 181-200 lbs and lastly for adults, maximum of 400mg of caffeine.
Caffeine intake by children is maximum by chocolates and energy drinks and not coffee drinks exclusively as it’s like for adults, and even though they have milk and other calcium sources, coffee consumption at a young age can also lead to more levels of sugar, leading to obesity which is increasingly becoming normal.
1.1.2 During Puberty
As the human body grows during puberty, caffeine overuse can lead to low bone growth but since the human body is still developing, with balanced calcium absorption, it can be controlled. Exercising and following a calcium-rich diet is enough to avoid stunted growth.
1.2 Caffeine and Gender
1.2.1 Coffee and Aged Women
The main presence of calcium in the human body is in teeth and bones. The discs at the start and end of spinal bones have water, losing water with age. Women have lower bone mass than men, so they lose calcium more than men and therefore are more prone to calcium deficiency.
As said, caffeine accelerates calcium elimination for the above reason, and, understandably, caffeine consumption affects women more than men. This was a scientific analysis, and even though the reasons are true, practically, women’s highest daily caffeine intake is 4 to 5 cups of coffee. It’s within the prescribed limit and hardly affects the level of bad bone health.
1.2.2 Coffee, Pregnancy, and Breastfeeding
Research in Brazil found little to no connection between breastfeeding and its side effects on babies. Direct consumption might harm the baby, but limited caffeine that too indirectly is unlikely to affect the child and its growth.
1.3 Caffeine and Age
Adults consume more caffeine, and since their growth is complete, it cannot be reversed. But adults have to deal with calcium deficiency after some point which can lead to scoliosis or kyphosis- bending forward and curvature of the spine, which can make your height look less.
2. What Led to Confusion – Does Caffeine Stunt Your Growth?
Like many other rumors, no one knows the origin of this myth. Still, it can be said that it became widely popular in the 1930s after the Postum Company wanted to advertise its caffeine alternative for children. For the same, it printed advertisements with fake information that coffee can stunt kids’ growth.
Soon adults also believed coffee could stunt growth and not only children, whom the Postum posters targeted, so people still ask – ‘does coffee stunt your growth?‘
3. Can I Drink Coffee and be Healthy at the Same Time?
It’s conclusive to say that coffee does affect your growth. In some cases, it can benefit you as it’s an antioxidant and reduces risks of type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s. It is anti-inflammatory and also helps in weight loss.
There are recommendations for limited use of caffeine for adults, pregnant women and breastfeeding, and aging people because consuming more caffeine can harm them. Coffee isn’t the only source of it. As it includes other things we casually consume, it is possible to extend the recommended amount immensely, which can harm us.
Given that you are consuming caffeine, overall, within the prescribed limits, and besides that, taking proper care of your body, especially calcium, will help you continue your coffee and stay healthy at the same time.