For reasons such as a well-built physique or boosting one's confidence, more people wish to increase their height.
Generally, females attain their optimum height by the age of 18 years whereas for males growth in height is up to 21 years.
Genetics play the principal role in determining one's height. However, factors like eating nutrient-dense foods, stretching exercises, skipping, swimming and cycling can also influence a person's height.
Interestingly, research published in AMA journal
demonstrated a link between sleep disorders and low levels of Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which plays a vital role in bone growth and subsequent increase in height. Thus, a sound sleep is pivotal for attaining a good height.
Nutrients that Help Increase Height
Since nutrition plays a vital role in contributing towards height, eating a well-balanced diet is significant.
The following nutrients that must be included in the daily diet especially during the two prominent phases of spurt in height - the initial 5 years of one's life and puberty
Restricting the intake of junk food is important since it interferes with the absorption and assimilation of these nutrients.
Proteins, often referred as bodybuilding foods are a vital component of various organs, bones, muscles and hormones. Proteins are made up of amino acids, and the HGH is made up of 191 amino acids. Deficiency of protein can thus result in stunted growth along with a decrease in muscle mass and optimum bone growth. Protein deficiency impairs production of IGF-I (Insulin-like Growth Factor-I) which plays a role in longitudinal growth of bone.
Hence, incorporating protein-rich foods like dairy products, eggs, soybean, fish and chicken are vital to increase height.
Vitamin D has an important role in skeletal development i.e. bone and muscle growth. Vitamin D is indispensable for the absorption of calcium and phosphorus which are the most important nutrients for strong bones and optimum bone growth. A deficit of Vitamin D can result in an inadequate growth of bones and subsequent lesser height along with an increased risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Exposure to sunlight, fortified foods, mushrooms, eggs and fish such as tuna, salmon are rich sources of Vitamin D
Apart from healthy vision, Vitamin A plays a role in bone metabolism and formation. It helps maintain calcium levels in the bone thus promoting strong bones. Deficiency of Vitamin A stunts optimal bone growth leading to a short stature.
Sources of Vitamin A include sweet potato, carrots, mangoes, green leafy vegetables, dairy products and eggs.
Calcium is the key mineral, which forms the bone matrix. During the stages of rapid growth, calcium deposition is at its peak since the bones are storing more calcium and developing stronger and longer bones.
Calcium-rich foods include ragi (finger millet) dairy products, white sesame seeds and green leafy vegetables.
Coral calcium, a natural source of calcium obtained from corals increases bone mass and bone density helping the bones grow to their optimum length.
Zinc is an essential mineral required for growth and development at different stages. It plays a role in cell division and protein synthesis. In fact, zinc works synergistically with proteins in the optimal growth of bones. It is vital for the synthesis and secretion of growth hormone. Deficiency of zinc has been associated with growth retardation.
Zinc is found in foods like oysters, chicken, eggs, pulses, nuts and oilseeds.
During periods of rapid growth, the energy requirement increases. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which provides energy. Additionally, carbohydrates also have a protein sparing effect i.e. ensuring that proteins are not broken down for energy and can concentrate on bodybuilding and other functions. Simple carbohydrates like sugar, desserts, refined flour and bakery products cause a spike in blood sugar levels and consequent release of insulin. High levels of insulin in the bloodstream inhibits the activity of growth hormone.
Whole grains and cereals, millets, roots and tubers and fruits must be included to meet the dietary carbohydrate needs
Foods to Promote Height Growth
Based on the nutrients that promote height growth, the top ten foods that must be incorporated in the diet include:
Dairy products - Milk, cheese, curd and cottage cheese
Whole grain cereals
Green leafy vegetables
Nuts and oilseeds
A sample diet
- Egg bhurji with multi-grain toast / Mixed vegetable and paneer paratha
- Fruit with a handful of mixed nuts
- Salad, soy nuggets curry / chicken curry, brown rice
-Whole wheat vegetable frankie
Late evening snack
- Sprouts/roasted chana
- Whole wheat pasta with exotic veggies and cheese