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:
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.
4Coffee can cause kids to miss out on getting essential vitamins and minerals.
According to kidshealth.org, coffee and other caffeinated beverages are filled with empty calories. This means that after drinking a cup of coffee, a child won’t feel hungry and won’t want to eat foods that contain vital vitamins and minerals.
The same goes for teens and adults, as well. Coffee will curb hunger, but replacing a healthy snack with a cup of coffee with added sugar and dairy usually isn’t the best option.
5Once you’re hooked, withdrawal is no walk in the park.
Let’s go back to the idea that the younger you start drinking, the more dependent you’ll be on coffee as an adult. When you reach a point where you realize you’re drinking way too much coffee and you decide to cut back, the withdrawal symptoms will really drag you down.
If you’re a young person reading this, keep this fact in mind for when you’re older. Headaches, body aches, mood swings, and inability to focus, are all symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. These symptoms can stick around for quite a while during your body’s readjustment period.
6Kids who drink coffee are more likely to be hyperactive.
This one kind of seems like a no brainer, but it should be noted anyway. According to Livestrong.com, the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant and increases energy (we’re sure you knew that). When kids have too much energy, it can be hard for them to focus or calm down.
Hyperactivity and the inability to focus can be a huge problem during a school day. A child stimulated by caffeine will be distracted from their learning and can cause other kids to be distracted as well. Unlike adults, younger kids won’t know how to channel this energy into their work, and their grades can suffer. If this is happening with your child, we recommend talking to your pediatrician, since they’ll have a better understanding of what your kid is consuming and how it correlates to their behavior.
Although there is no real danger in kids drinking coffee (once again, check with your pediatrician! If your child has an undetected heart issue, for example, it may be better for them to stay away from all forms of caffeine) it might be better to hold off on consuming large amounts of caffeine until they know how to control their intake.