There are several misconceptions about coffee. Some believe it can cause heartburn. Others think it can cause dehydration, but when I encountered this question, “does coffee stunt your growth?”, I shook my head in disbelief. It seemed that coffee and height loss is a common association for many people. As a result, they refuse to drink coffee because it might stunt their growth.
Let’s just get something straight. First, if you are over 18 years old, your body has already stopped growing. You have achieved your full height. Meaning, your height when you were 18 years old is almost the same height as you have right now. Whether you drink coffee or not, you will never grow another centimeter. That’s a biological fact.
Second, the thought that coffee can stunt growth might have come from another common misconception that coffee cause osteoporosis and if you have osteoporosis, you lose height. Unfortunately, this is a myth.
Coffee does not stunt your growth. If you are asking this question because your child wants to drink coffee, check out what experts say about coffee and growth.
Coffee and growth: what do experts say?
In an article for Kid’s Health, Dr. Mary Gavin confirmed that coffee does not stunt growth. However, she pointed out to be wary of the presence of caffeine, which may cause some negative effects in larger doses.
“For most people, a cup or two of coffee a day doesn’t do any harm. But if you’re drinking more — especially if you are getting caffeine from other sources, like soda or energy drinks — you may want to cut back,” Dr. Gavin said. “That’s because high doses of caffeine can cause anxiety and dizziness, and may interfere with normal sleep.”
Regarding the common misconception that coffee causes osteoporosis and results to height loss, a health report from Harvard University presented the truth about osteoporosis and cleared out that coffee has nothing to do with it.
According to researchers, coffee does not cause osteoporosis. It was commonly believed that coffee drinkers developed a lack of calcium and this led to osteoporosis. However, they found that it was not coffee, itself, that caused osteoporosis among drinkers. The lack of calcium in their daily diet was the culprit.
The researchers also added that the loss of height due to osteoporosis is caused by compression fractures. The discs above and below most of the spinal bones (vertebrae) contain water. They lose water with age, so they can degenerate and compress a bit. If enough discs are affected, you can lose a measurable amount of height over time.
Even if you don’t have osteoporosis, you can still lose height. Poor posture can cause a strain to your spinal cord.
Moreover, the curvature of the spine (scoliosis) or bending of the spine forward (kyphosis) can also lead to height loss. The most common causes of scoliosis and kyphosis include osteoporosis (in adults) and developmental abnormalities (in kids).
Baby Center, an online magazine for children’s health, also confirmed that coffee does not stunt growth. However, inadequate nutrition can affect a child’s growth. The magazine suggested that parents should always consider the nutritional content of their kid’s foods and drinks. While coffee does not affect growth development, empty-nutrition foods and drinks like caffeinated sodas, chocolate drinks, and artificial fruit juices may not be valuable for your child’s growing needs.
Before you rant about coffee, take a look at the caffeine content of common drinks consumed by kids today:
- Caffeinated soft drinks (12 ounces): 22 to 69 milligrams (mg)
- Energy drinks (8 ounces): 76 to 280 mg
- Iced tea (12 ounces): 27 to 42 mg
- Milk chocolate (2 ounces): 12 mg
- Dark chocolate (2 ounces): 40 mg
- Chocolate milk (8 ounces): 5 mg
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends restricting children’s daily caffeine intake to less than:
- 45 mg for kids age 4 to 6
- 62.5 mg for kids age 7 to 9
- 85 mg for kids age 10 to 12
There’s no problem with drinking coffee, just make sure you add a regular intake of vitamin D supplement. In fact, whether you drink coffee or not, you need to take vitamin D supplement to ensure that your body absorbs the calcium you get from your diet.
And while it’s true that people who have osteoporosis of the spine can lose height (and often have curved spines), it’s the fractures, not the osteoporosis itself, that lead to height loss.
What causes growth problems?
If coffee is not the reason for stunted growth, what are the common reasons behind growth problems? Growth problems often occur in children. Here are the reasons why children are stunting.
A child’s growth and development can be influenced by:
- eating habits and nutrition
- sleeping patterns
- endocrine function (hormones)
- presence or absence of chronic illness
If a child suffers an abnormality from any of these areas, there is a higher chance that the child will have a growth-related issue.
One of the leading causes of growth problems among children, according to About Kids Health Canada, is due to endocrine diseases. Endocrine disorders include:
- Growth hormone deficiency: This rare disease happens when a child has little or no growth hormone. Growth hormone is made by the pituitary gland and stimulates growth through chemical interactions in the body. Without it, or without enough of it, growth is slowed or stunted completely.
- Hypothyroidism: This is a condition caused by low levels of thyroid hormone in the blood. Without enough of this hormone, babies can suffer from poor brain development. Older children can have slow growth and slow metabolism.
The benefits of drinking coffee
Several studies have highlighted the benefits of coffee. In fact, research has linked coffee consumption to several health benefits, including a reduced risk of:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Liver disease
- Certain cancers (especially liver cancer)
Aside from these benefits, coffee has been associated with increased stamina for athletes. Moreover, moderate consumption of freshly brewed black coffee can promote weight loss.
Beneficial antioxidants in coffee
Coffee contains essential antioxidants that help promote better health.
Cafestol acts like a bile acid modulator in the intestine. It can regulate the sugar level in our gut before it can be absorbed by the blood. Also, it is a known anti-inflammatory substance that can help improve memory.
Trigonelline is a known anti-bacterial agent that can prevent dental cavities. This antioxidant also gives coffee its bitter taste and heavenly aroma. If you want to get the most of this antioxidant, choose Arabica coffee. When coffee beans are darkly roasted, the trigonelline degrades to form nicotinic acid and pyridines. Nicotinic acid is also known as Vitamin B3 (or niacin), which is a well-known antioxidant.
Chlorogenic acid is an important antioxidant because it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It can help regulate fat in the body and speed up metabolism rate.
Melanoidin is the brown colored, nitrogenous compound in coffee. This antioxidant carries anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, too.
The bitter compound is one of the primary agents in coffee that give the latter some of its antioxidant properties. It is a known element for Malaria treatment.
Also confirmed by the American Chemistry Society, caffeine is an antioxidant that can help cure headaches, in losing weight and preventing diabetes.
Drinking coffee will not make you shorter, that’s for sure. However, avoiding coffee will not make you taller. Growth development rests on many factors like genetics, hormones, and the presence of chronic illnesses. Coffee has nothing to do it. So, enjoy that cup without any worry.