6 things that ACTUALLY happen to your body when you drink coffee as a kid

Getty Images / Roberto Westbrook

We’ve all heard it before: If you drink coffee as a kid, it’ll stunt your growth. But is that true? Will drinking a cup of coffee, or sipping on an iced latte make it so that you don’t grow, or at least not at the rate you’re supposed to? Thanks to modern day research, we now know that this is just a myth. No, coffee won’t stunt a child’s growth, but it’s not necessarily good for them. Learning that this warning is a falsity, we researched real effects coffee can have on a young person’s body.

According to The Mayo Clinic, adults shouldn’t consume more than 200 to 300 milligrams of caffeine per day. The United States doesn’t offer a limit on daily caffeine consumption for children. However, that doesn’t mean kids should be drinking the same amount as adults. The Mayo Clinic study via lifestyle.howstuffworks.com reads:

“Health Canada recommends no more than 45 milligrams a day for kids aged 4 to 6, 62.5 milligrams for kids age 7 to 9, 85 milligrams for kids age 10 to 12, and no more than 2.5 milligrams per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight for adolescents 13 and up”

So what can coffee do to a young person’s body? Here’s a list of health effects it can have:

1Caffeine and coffee can increase the body’s elimination of calcium.

While researchers were still trying to find the link between caffeine and stunted growth, scientists realized that caffeine pulls calcium out of our bodies. According to a Harvard Health Publications article, the connection between caffeine and calcium loss is super small.

In fact, Harvard Health Publications suggests that caffeine might not be to blame for calcium extraction. When people drink coffee, they are less likely to consume straight milk and other calcium-enriched beverages. So calcium loss might just be due to people not drinking enough milk. Basically, this claim still requires a ton more research.

2Starting young means you’ll need more later.

If you start drinking coffee as a child or teen, you’ll need to drink more and more of it as you grow older. Kidshealth.org reports that a person who drinks coffee regularly will develop a tolerance to caffeine. This person will need to keep increasing their doses of caffeine (or cups of coffee) to achieve the same affect.

As you grow older and need to consume more coffee for the same effect, you could potentially develop health problems. Consuming coffee in excess can lead to adult health issues reduced fertility and can increase heart problems or nervous disorders.

3When active kids drink coffee, they are at risk for severe dehydration.

Coffee and caffeine are diuretics, meaning they eliminate water from the body. You might note that when you drink coffee, you pee a lot more. That’s the diuretic at work! When active kids (and active adults) drink too much coffee and not enough water, they put themselves at risk for severe dehydration.

Whether you’re young or old, you should always have a bottle of water nearby, especially when you’re consuming coffee. Staying hydrated isn’t just important for being active, but dehydration can damage your kidneys and cause diarrhea.

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