This is a question that many well intended parents are asking. In an age where collegiate and professional athletes are ever taller and stronger, parents wonder, are there ways I can help my adolescent be a taller adult?
In truth, surprisingly, there are several factors that influence increased height in our offspring if we are consistent in applying the concepts.
Growth and Genetics
According to Scientific American, 60-80% of height is based upon genetics. That leaves 20-40% to be determined by environmental factors, mainly, nutrition. In most races, genetic heredity plays a 78-80% factor in determining height.
This gets complicated quickly, but if you follow the logic, here’s an explanation of what this means.
For males, the average height is 5’-10” in the US. If a male grows to 6’-3”, he is 5” taller than average. The study suggests that 4” of that was likely based upon genetics and 1” was attributable to his nutrition. In the US, height has plateaued, leading researchers to believe that we have reached the cap on what nutrition can produce with respect to added height in this country.
The scenario described above, only shows that 1” was attributable to environmental factors, but only IF this individual did all they could to maximize environmental benefits.
If they did not, then genetics could have accounted for the full 5” in above average height, and the person missed added growth that they could have seen through proper eating, exercise, and other growth enhancing factors ignored during puberty.
What Factors Influence Growth?
Smoking and Second Hand Smoke. This is believed to be a growth stunting factor. Though not conclusively proven, kids that smoke or are children of smokers are shorter than those who do not smoke or are children of non-smokers.
Another growth inhibiting factor is steroids. Children and teens who suffer from asthma and use inhalers that are dispensed in small doses of the steroid budesonide are, on average, half an inch shorter at full adult height than those not treated with steroids.
Get plenty of sleep. Growing teens need 8.5-11 hours of sleep per night. HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is produced naturally in our bodies, especially during deep or slow wave sleep.
Eat Right. Try and incorporate these foods and nutrients in your diet:
Abundant carbohydrates and calories for energy to grow
Plenty of calcium (milk and vegetables)
500 MG of Niacin on an empty stomach
Plenty of Vitamin D (fish, alfalfa, mushrooms, milk and sunlight)
Plenty of Protein (at least 2 meals per day with a high quality protein
Protein power once per day
Supplement with zinc (oysters, chocolate, peanuts, eggs, peas, asparagus, and supplements)
Eat several meals per day, not just 3 (though the in between could be snack size, quality foods
Keep the immune system strong. Some childhood illnesses have been shown to stunt growth.
Exercise. Exercise increases blood flow to the body and stimulated growth.
Practice good posture. Rolling the shoulders (think typing), can impact the curvature of the spine, and the spine’s health in instrumental in producing strong growth.
Wiki has more to say on positive influences on growth. Many of their suggestions reinforce items just discussed.
Drink milk, exercise in the sun, and sleep longer.
Don't go on diets while you're still growing.
Exercising, or basically cardio exercises help a lot. Plus, it keeps your heart healthy as well.
Sleep well and drink lots of water.
Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and some milk to develop stronger bones. Even slight dehydration causes many problems, such as lack of energy and irritability.
You need to eat a lot of protein.
If needed, try to lose some weight. This will make you grow a little faster, as well as look taller.
Eat broccoli, it has growth hormones.
Sprinting can help increasing growth hormones in your body, this works if you are an adolescent.
Do not try to have people pull on you to make you taller. This will not affect your growth, and will usually give you pain in the neck, arms, and shoulders.
Don't hunch over as much. It will affect how you grow.
Human Growth Hormone
Much of our height is influenced by our body’s ability to produce HGH. How much we produce is largely determined by genetics as we have discussed. But here are ways that you can enhance HGH production naturally, according to Authority Nutrition.
Lose body fat. Body fat, especially in the belly area, is known to inhibit the body’s production of HGH.
Reduce sugar intake. When we increase insulin production in an individual, HGH production goes down. For this reason, limit refined carbs and sugars as they raise insulin levels the most.
Don’t eat a lot before bedtime. As discussed, HGH production is strongest while sleeping, but if you’ve eaten just before bedtime, your insulin levels are increased as you sleep, counteracting the benefits of HGH production at night.
Exercise at high intensity. High intensity stimulates HGH production naturally.
Optimize your sleep. Again, 8.5 to 11 hours is recommended for adolescents.
You can influence growth in your kids
Research shows that what you do and what they do can positively, or negatively, influence their full adult height. However, the amount that growth can be influence is relatively small, generally limited to just an inch or so.
For kids concerned about height however, it doesn’t hurt to take full advantage of what nutrition, exercise and supplements can enhance in their growth.