When will we start shrinking?

When will we start shrinking?

September 19, 2019 | By Natalie Harrison
From the early age to adulthood, each person’s height will grow uninterruptedly. However, once reaching a certain period, we can begin “shrinking”.

We all know that after the age of 20, height growth almost stops as ossification seems to take place around this age. Not so well-known is that later on, we will not solely stop “growing taller”, but we tend to “shrink” as well. 

In fact, there is no specific study determining the exact age when people start shrinking. Scientists simply claim that we may become shorter when reaching the middle age (around the age of 40) and perimenopausal women are at higher risk.

Why do we get shorter as we age? 

During the middle age and later, people tend to go through a decrease of at least some centimetres in height, compared with the height during adolescence. The unexpected fact stems from the following cases.

Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is one of the most common diseases worldwide and it raises a lot of health concern. According to statistics from The World Health Organization, there are more than 50 million cases reported of bone fracture linked to osteoporosis, resulting in over 600-billion-dollar loss each year.   

Osteoporosis is a leading cause of human shrinkage.

When people reach middle age, the body seems to reduce its ability to absorb certain minerals such as Calcium, Iron, and Zinc. This is one of the reasons causing bones to be brittle and weak. Additionally, the spinal column plays a role in holding the body erect. As the spinal bones bear the whole body’s weight, bones will shrink gradually and so, people will get shorter more or less.

Perimenopausal women (around the age of 50) are at higher risk of getting shorter due to osteoporosis. During this period, estrogen levels often fall significantly, causing the bones to become weak and lose density. In fact, within the first 5 years after menopause, some women may lose up to 25% of their bone mass. For women suffering from serious bone loss, they may get 5cm shorter as they age.  

Osteoporosis causes women to lose bones and get 5cm shorter as they age.

Herniated disc 

The human spine is a long column made up of 26 vertebrae, in which two adjacent vertebrae linked by an intervertebral disc. The nucleus pulposus inside each intervertebral disc is capable of absorbing and storing water up to 90%. Over time, the amount of water in the bones will gradually decrease. In parallel with this, the initial thickness of the intervertebral disc will become thinner.

The total length of all intervertebral discs in the spine accounts for 1/4 of the spine length. Therefore, once intervertebral discs become thinner, the total length of the spine will be cut down respectively.       

Physical inactivity

Physical inactivity also leads to poor muscle strength while frames of bones get loose and atrophied from time to time. As the spinal bones shrink, they cannot hold the spine in place. What’s more, the body weight puts pressure on the spine, making it crooked, and then the whole body shrinks remarkably.

In order to maintain a certain height as aging, everyone should create a plan from now on. We should choose calcium-rich foods along with essential nutrients to support bone growth later on. In addition, remember that jogging, running, aerobic exercises, and regular physical activities are crucial to prevent shrinkage and osteoporosis.

 

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