There have been some rumors flying around that coffee can stunt your growth. (We’re lookin’ at you, Cher Horowitz in Clueless.) Many parents tell their kids coffee is bad for them for this reason.
Is there any truth to the rumor, or has coffee gotten a bad rap?
Let’s dispel the rumor: No, coffee does not stunt your growth. That’s just an old wives’ tale. There is no scientific evidence that coffee consumption or caffeine is linked to a child’s growth. A person’s growth is based primarily on genetics and nutrition.
Is it safe for my child to drink coffee?
It is safe for your child to drink coffee, but keep a watchful eye on the amount they have.
Just because coffee doesn’t stunt kids’ growth doesn’t mean it’s safe for kids to be regular coffee drinkers.
Small amounts of coffee won’t harm your kid, but the effects of caffeine in kids are pretty strong. Here’s what caffeinated drinks can do to your child:
- Increase the risk of anxiety and/or depression
- Cause restlessness
- Lead to insomnia and other issues with sleep patterns or sleep quality
- Interfere with attention spans
- Increase heart rate
- Increase the risk of high blood pressure (in high doses)
- Create other health effects if your child goes through caffeine withdrawal (like headaches, jitters, and shakiness)
Almost all of the side effects of coffee are directly linked to significant amounts of caffeine.
Is coffee bad for kids? No, coffee is not generally bad for older kids when consumed in strict moderation.
Remember, this doesn’t mean that coffee is overall unsafe, just that it should be consumed within the recommended amounts.
What does coffee do to teens? For teens, coffee may help with concentration. However, too much can lead to headaches and sleep problems. It’s generally safe for teens to drink 100mg of caffeine, or one cup of coffee, daily.
Is it safe to drink coffee while pregnant?
Limited coffee drinking during pregnancy is considered generally safe when you limit total caffeine intake to 150-200 milligrams per day.
Caffeine can pass into breast milk, too, so nursing moms may want to limit caffeine as well.
Why do people think coffee stunts growth?
According to Smithsonian Magazine, we may have to thank some very effective advertising for this famous coffee rumor.
In the early 1900s, ads for a breakfast drink called Postum condemned coffee as a dangerous drink that would harm children and stunt their growth. It seems that the false claims about coffee made a lasting mark — some people still believe them today.
Image credit: Postum ad, The Boston Daily Globe, 1925
Image credit: smithsonianmag.com
There has also been some concern that coffee might lead to osteoporosis, shrinking your height as you lose bone mass. Most studies have shown no link between coffee and osteoporosis — plus, osteoporosis doesn’t actually affect your height.
The caffeine in coffee doesn’t stunt your growth, either. Caffeine affects calcium absorption, making it harder for the body to get the calcium it needs to build bones. Despite these effects, most studies show caffeine doesn’t actually affect adult bone density or strength.
Caffeine doesn’t appear to affect kids’ bone growth either. Kids who drink caffeinated beverages like soda or energy drinks don’t have less bone mass than their caffeine-avoiding peers.
What drinks stunt your growth? There’s no evidence that a specific drink stunts growth in children. This means coffee, tea, and even energy drinks do not impact height.
Stunted growth is generally caused by poor nutrition or certain infections and diseases that interfere with nutrient absorption or metabolism. Scoliosis (curvature of the spine), kyphosis (forward bending of the spine), osteoporosis, and some developmental issues can also contribute to height loss.
Health Benefits of Coffee
Unless you’re drinking too much, pregnant, or have specific conditions, the good in coffee may outweigh the bad.
Coffee has many health benefits, including:
- Rich antioxidant content
- Helps your body use sugar properly
- Reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Protects against Alzheimer’s and dementia
- Protects against Parkinson’s
- Helps with weight loss and leads to a lower risk of obesity
You can grab a cup of joe and feel confident you’re doing something good for your health! Just make sure your child isn’t getting too much of it.
Even though coffee can benefit you, it can still have some adverse effects. Coffee can do a number on your digestive system thanks to its high acidity, especially if you have a sensitive stomach.
How much coffee is safe for my child?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends limiting older children’s caffeine consumption to around 100 mg of caffeine per day. That’s about the same amount of caffeine in an average 8 oz cup of coffee or about 1.5 shots of espresso.
Small kids should avoid coffee entirely.
Some countries, like Canada, have specific caffeine intake recommendations for kids based on age.
Health Canada recommends the following caffeine limits:
|Under age 4||No caffeine recommended|
|Age 4 to 6||Under 45 mg per day|
|Age 7 to 9||Under 62.5 mg per day|
|Age 9 to 12||Under 85 mg per day|
|Age 13 to 18||Under 2.5 mg/kg body weight|
Ideally, adults should have 400 mg or less of caffeine per day, or about 4 regular cups of coffee. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should limit their daily caffeine intake to 200 mg or less.
Is it OK for a 13-year-old to drink coffee? Yes, it’s OK for a 13-year-old to drink small amounts of coffee, but no more than one cup a day.
Ways To Ensure Healthy Growth
Even though coffee doesn’t affect growth and height, other factors do.
Genetics have the most significant effect on height: about 80% of height is genetically determined. So, there’s only so much you can do to control your child’s ultimate height.
Proper nutrition is also essential if you want your child to grow to their full potential. Make sure your child is eating enough:
- Protein: Protein has a considerable effect on height, so make sure your child gets plenty of protein from healthy sources.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A helps our organs function properly and supports the immune system.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps bodies absorb calcium, essential for growing bones.
Childhood diseases can also have a negative impact on height. Ensure that your kids have good hygiene by encouraging hand washing and limiting the spread of germs can also help kids reach their full genetic height.
Coffee without concerns.
You can breathe easier knowing that coffee isn’t going to stunt your kids’ growth. However, it’s probably not a good idea for little ones to drink significant amounts of coffee because of the caffeine.
If you’re looking for flavorful, health-conscious coffee, you’ve found it. Low on acid and high on flavor, we make our coffee from certified organic ingredients.
Here’s to healthier coffee and your growing kids!
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