According to research, we can begin to decrease height from 30 visibly. Men can gradually lose about 2.5 cm between 30 and 70, and women can lose around 5 cm. After age 80, both men and women may lose an additional 2.5 cm. (1,2)
Read on to find out why height decreases with age and how to optimize your body so that this does not happen.
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Why does height decrease with age?
Experts on the subject claim that we can shrink for several different reasons.
Older adults may decrease in height because the cartilage between the joints wears down, and osteoporosis causes the spine to shorten. Adults can also lose lean muscle mass but gain fat. This is a condition called sarcopenia. (1,2,3)
Sarcopenia is characterized by a decrease in muscle mass, which leads to weakness, frailty, and a reduction in height. Osteoporosis causes bones to weaken and break, which can also cause a person to become shorter.
It is believed that the leading cause of short stature is changes in hormones: sexual – estrogens, testosterone. For example, in women, estrogens fix calcium in the bones, and when their levels drop at menopause, calcium is lost little by little. Over the years, the bones get smaller and the stature shorter.
In addition, in older people, the effects of other growth-related molecules such as growth hormone are reduced, even more so when unhealthy habits and diets are followed.
Should we pay attention to how quickly we lose height?
Yes, reducing your height too quickly can indicate a much bigger problem than having to fold your pants. Those who lose one to two inches in a year may be at increased risk for spinal and hip fractures and heart disease in men. If this happens, you should consult your doctor.
While we may not be able to control some changes in our body as we age, there are some habits we can change to avoid losing so many inches. These habits include slouching, lack of physical activity, smoking, drinking too much alcohol or caffeine, extreme dieting, steroids, and a poor diet.
Research has shown that a good diet in later life reduces the risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, and certain cancers. (1,2)
Although you may need less energy as you age, you still need the same amount of nutrients from food. Eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, such as dairy, fruits, and vegetables, can help keep your bones strong.
Additionally, exercising with weights in both young and older adults can help prevent shrinking. This is because exercise fixes and strengthens bone mineral density. This affects not only bone health but posture and height in adulthood.
That height decreases with age is a fact. Although the exact mechanism is not yet apparent, it is due to the wear and tear of the muscles and bones.
Over the years, the sex hormones are reduced, which impacts the bones, muscles, and, consequently, height. Regular hormonal changes in the body and an unbalanced diet can accelerate this process.
The good news, eating well and ensuring healthy habits like not smoking and exercising can prevent your height from decreasing.