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Why do we shrink as we get older?

I've lost at least 1/2 an inch since I was in my twenties. A lot of my friends have too. What causes us to lose height?

5154 day(s) ago

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Although it seems like this is only a myth, the truth is that people do tend to get shorter as they grow older. The average loss of height from adulthood to death is around one inch. Shrinking is mostly due to the fact that our height is largely determined by our skeletal structure and the curvature in our spine. When we are young, our skeleton is new and straight. During our lifetime, the force of gravity takes a heavy toll on our body. Our skin begins to sag and the natural cushioning in our bones compresses ever thinner. Our spine is made of several individual vertebrae. As we get older and the cushioning between them becomes thinner, the spine also becomes slightly curved. These two factors are most responsible for the loss of height we experience as seniors.

Osteoporosis, a bone condition common in older people, can also cause shrinking. People with osteoporosis have bones that do not heal themselves as rapidly as they used to. When we move, small amounts of bone can rub against each other and wear down. Some cells in our bones also naturally die. When the cells donít get replaced, they become thinner and fragile. Loss of height can also be made worse by smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol. These two substances help bones to break down faster. To avoid shrinking, the best thing we can do is make sure we are getting enough calcium and eating well-balanced meals with plenty of vitamins and minerals. Regular exercise will also help to keep bones healthy longer. Finally, having good posture while walking and sitting will keep our back straight and prevent curvature.

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