Losing Height With Age

Shrinking with age
How Much Height Loss Is Normal?

A little bit of height loss as we age is normal. After the age of 30 (yes, only 30!) we lose about half an inch every decade. This is caused by discs between the vertebrae flattening, muscles starting to lose mass, loss of elasticity in the joints and the flattening of feet. Some people also develop a stoop resulting from bad posture.

However dramatic loss of height (generally around 4 inches) can be a sign of osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease in which the bones of the body become brittle making them easier to fracture (break). Although this condition is often regarded as a woman's ailment, men are not immune. As male hormone levels decline between the ages of 65 and 70 they begin to lose bone mass at the same rate that women do. If you are worried about osteoporosis, talk to your doctor about having a bone density scan performed (DEXA scan). This scan is completely non invasive and only takes a few minutes to perform. If your results are borderline it may mean you have osteopenia. It means that your bones are becoming thin and brittle, but not brittle enough to be classified as osteoporosis.

Prevention is far better than cure when it comes to osteoporosis. An active lifestyle, a healthy diet that contains plenty of calcium, not smoking and a moderate consumption of alcohol will help keep your bones strong. Even if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis, the same preventative measures can help slow down the progress of the condition. That said, your genes always play a role in just how much you shrink. See osteoporosis prevention, for more advice.

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