|Why the body shrinks, when people gets old?|
|Question Date: 2017-10-20|
Great question. There are a few reasons, but
they all basically come down to our bodies working
more slowly and cells not being replaced as fast,
or not being replaced at all.
Our bodies are made of cells and the things
cells produce (like hair or bones). When we’re
young, cells are dividing quickly. That’s how
we grow. But cells only divide a certain number of
times, and things start to slow down.
We get shorter because our bone cells are
fewer and slower, so they aren’t making new
bone as fast. The bones get weaker and just the
pressure of our bodies squashes them a bit, so we
lose height. The weaker bones can also keep us
from standing up straight, so we look shorter.
We get wrinkly when our cells make less
of the types of proteins that make our skin
elastic (stretchy) and make it thicker so that it
doesn’t wrinkle. We also replace skin cells
What other changes have you noticed when
people, or other animals, get older?
Thanks for asking,
We need to use the element calcium for our
nervous systems, and store it in our bones. For
reasons that I don't understand and am not sure
are understood, old people can't take up calcium
from food as well as young people, so they take
the calcium in their bones out and don't put it
back. Since calcium is also what makes bones stand
up, taking out the calcium makes them shrink,
which is why old people shrink.
It’s true that people tend to get shorter as they
get old, with the effect being worse in women. One
study found that women lost about 3 inches in
height from age 30 to 80! Most of this height
loss has to do with the spine. The spine is
made of a bunch of small pieces called
vertebrae. As people get older, the
vertebrae get squeezed to be slightly shorter
which makes the person shorter. Also, the loss
of bone density and muscle can make a person
stoop over which will make them look shorter.
Height loss is a normal part of aging, but
sometimes when it’s too fast, it may mean there is
something wrong with the person.
We can shrink for a few reasons.
1) Our cartilage between joints wears down, and
osteoporosis, which is a weakening of the
bones that can lead to increased risk of bone
fractures, shortens the spinal column.
2) We lose muscle and begin to stoop.
Therefore, it is important for us to exercise an
appropriate amount every day to maintain our
muscles and bones, and keep our joints in good
This is a good question. As we get older,
the discs (fluid-filled sacs) in our vertebrae
(bones in our spine) dehydrate (lose water) and
compress (get smaller). This means that
overall, we shrink. The next question you may ask
is why these sacs dehydrate over time. Our
discs have molecules called proteoglycans,
which usually act to attract water. As we age,
the amount of proteoglycans decreases in our
vertebral discs. While we can't totally
prevent the process of aging, we can do certain
things to slow it down. Sleeping and eating well,
staying hydrated (drink more water, less coffee!),
and stretching/exercising to keep your back
healthy can help keep your discs more hydrated
over the years. Hope this helps!
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