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A photo of a cup of coffee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia

Caffeine does not stunt your growth, according to pediatricians Dr. Aaron Carroll and Dr. Rachel Vreeman, who studied the scientific literature to put more than 75 health myths to rest.

That is not to say it is not a stimulant. It is.

Although I rarely fed my children coffee or tea when they were young, I found out my younger son, then a toddler, was particularly sensitive to caffeine one day when I let him have a sip of my iced tea in the middle of the day.

Hours later, when my husband came home, he noticed his nervously active behavior.

“Did our son have any caffeine today?”

“Well, I let him have a sip of my iced tea at lunch.”

“That must be it. Apparently, he can’t handle caffeine.”

And, I never let him have my tea again.

When I was growing up, though my parents generally had coffee with breakfast, they didn’t share.

They’d heard the same thing and told us so – it would stunt our growth.

I didn’t start drinking coffee until after my Freshman year of college when, at a summer job, coffee was free but you had to buy your own sodas.

Now, we know better.

Not only have no studies shown an effect on height, a couple have shown it to have no effect on height.

So, where did this idea get started?

Apparently, there have been studies that indicate caffeine inhibits the body’s ability to use calcium and potentially reduce bone density.

It’s not a big leap to go from reduced bone density to reduced height.

Except, it’s not true.

It’s not only easy for the body to absorb calcium from other sources, say, an extra tablespoon or two of milk, but the body also adjusts its use of the calcium it does get, reducing how much is excreted, to compensate for the reduced absorption caffeine represents.

So, you may want to restrict your children’s access to caffeine because of its stimulant effects, as I did with my son, but not because of its effect on height.

That being said, a 1998 study revealed that mothers who have 4 or more cups of coffee a day during pregnancy double the risk of SIDS in their babies.

As for foods that have caffeine, they are all the ones you already know about: coffee, tea, soda, and chocolate.

Here’s the relative levels of caffeine in some common foods.

Top of the list? My favorite, espresso from a coffee house.

  • 21,202 mg     Coffee, brewed, espresso, restaurant-prepared
  • 7,999 mg        Coffee, brewed from grounds, with tap water
  • 4,000 mg        Black tea brewed
  • 3,000 mg        Carbonated beverage, low calorie, not cola or pepper, with aspartame and caffeine
  • 2,608 mg        Tea, instant, unsweetened, powder
  • 1,200 mg        Red Bull energy drink
  • 311 mg           Dark chocolate covered coffee beans
  • 200 mg           Decaffeinated coffee, brewed from grounds, tap water
  • 71 mg             Dutch cocoa
  • 30 mg             Dark chocolate candies, 60-69% cacao solids
  • 11 mg             Quaker Oats Cocoa Blasts cereal
  • 10 mg             Chocolate pudding
  • 7 mg               Hot chocolate/cocoa mix, prepared with water
  • 7 mg               Mounds candy bar
  • 7 mg               Chocolate chip cookies, made with margarine
  • 6 mg               M&Ms
  • 6 mg               Oreos
  • 5 mg               Home-made cocoa with milk
  • 4 mg               Chocolate syrup
  • 4 mg               Tootsie Roll
  • 3 mg               Chocolate ice cream
  • 3 mg               Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups
  • 2 mg               Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies
  • 1 mg               Chocolate-coated doughnuts

The Mayo Clinic says adults should be ok with a moderate 200 to 300 milligrams a day of caffeine, which they put at two to four cups of coffee a day.

Does that mean you can eat 200 chocolate-covered doughnuts or 50 Tootsie Rolls? Nope.

Thanks to Drs. Carroll and Vreeman for their advice in “Don’t Cross Your Eyes…They’ll Get Stuck That Way!

Click on the title to order the book from amazon, Don’t Cross Your Eyes.


Carol Covin, Granny-Guru

Author, “Who Gets to Name Grandma? The Wisdom of Mothers and Grandmothers


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