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Myth or Fact: Does Coffee Stunt Your Growth?

“Don’t drink that, it’ll stunt your growth!” is a phrase many kids hear when growing up. As many of us can guess, the “that” being referred to is coffee. And it’s not just something you hear from your mom—it’s everywhere. Even in the movie Clueless, Cher makes a comment about not drinking coffee because she wants to be 5’10” like Cindy Crawford.  But is it true: Does coffee stunt your growth? Is there any scientific evidence to back this statement, or is it merely a myth?

Does Coffee Stunt Your Growth?

No, coffee does not stunt your growth. That’s right, it’s just a myth! And apparently, it’s a pretty common one.  If you’re looking for proof that coffee doesn’t stunt your growth, just take a look at our founder Danny — he’s about 6’8 and drinks multiple cups of coffee every single day!  According to the Mayo Clinic, the highest daily caffeine intake that most healthy adults should adhere to is a maximum of 400 mg of caffeine. That equals about four cups of coffee, 10 cans of soda, or 2 energy drinks. But if you feel like you need to cut back or stop drinking coffee, we highly recommend that you consult your doctor.  Additionally, take a look at caffeine as a whole. Kids have been drinking caffeine-packed sodas for years with no side effects (except hyperactivity), yet for some reason, coffee is the one caffeine drink that has been ousted by parents as something that is unhealthy for children. Why is that? Let’s dive deeper into this myth.

How Did This Myth Start?

Like most old wives’ tales about coffee, no one really knows. The truth is covered by a thick layer of latte foam. The most common thought is that it came from the notion that caffeine may reduce bone mass or cause osteoporosis. This common myth that caffeine stunts growth came from a study completed decades ago that found a correlation between people who drink coffee and lack of calcium, thus experiencing low bone density.  Needless to say, the study that developed this research was flawed from the get-go as the coffee drinkers in the study were elderly people whose diets significantly lacked calcium. The Smithsonian thinks the myth may have something to do with a company called Postum. In 1933, Postum had created a coffee alternative that didn’t have caffeine. And to help sell this product, the company released some specific (and incorrect) advertising that talked about the negative impact of caffeine and its effects on children. These pseudoscientific “effects” included things like it being an evil drink and nerve poison.  While today that idea is clearly disputed (all of us coffee lovers know that it’s not evil whatsoever), the idea of caffeine being bad for health has clearly stuck around for years.

Is Coffee Safe to Drink at Any Age?

Yes. When compared to other caffeinated beverages like soda and energy drinks loaded with sugar and caffeine, plain black coffee is a much healthier option. Caffeine consumption has no known side effects on the growth and development of anyone at any age. Caffeine can cause an increase in blood pressure, but it is usually temporary and no cause for alarm. The only caution anyone must take is consuming coffee when pregnant. Coffee does contain caffeine and drinking any type of caffeine while pregnant has been shown to increase the risk of low birth weight. In general, everyone’s bodies metabolize caffeine differently. But no matter what age, weight or metabolism level you are, coffee is perfectly fine to consume (although we’re not sure what type of parents would give their 6-year-old child an espresso … We all know they have plenty of natural energy!)

Can You Drink Coffee When Breastfeeding?

If the idea of giving your baby coffee is a little too “out there” for you...that’s understandable. But what about mothers who breastfeed? Are they allowed to consume coffee? A study done by Brazilian researchers found that babies breastfed by mothers who drank coffee showed no side effects different from those whose mothers didn’t drink coffee. As a matter of fact, many South American cultures embrace the idea of coffee and feed it to their kids and babies. In South American countries, milk for babies is often mixed with a bit of coffee right into the bottle!

Bottom Line: Does Caffeine Stunt Growth?

Caffeine does not stunt growth. Coffee does not make you short. These myths come from old wive’s tales and incorrect marketing from companies that wanted to sell caffeine alternatives. So the next time you wonder if you’d be as tall as Cindy Crawford if you didn't drink coffee, blame genetics rather than your cup of Joe.