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Ever wondered if there is a way of increasing height naturally? Well, unfortunately, there are no magic potions. Your height is mainly determined by genetics and environmental factors with 80% of an individual's height being influenced by the genes inherited from their parents

You cannot control what genes you inherit but you can definitely control environmental factors like nutrition to work in your favour. In fact, research suggests that improving nutritional support can help improve the heritability and expression of genetic factors. The difference can be as much as 2cm. That can make a world of difference for some.

So the good news is that there are certain things you can do to increase your height. However, it comes with a caveat. These tips are most effective if done during the puberty period. The rate of growth is maximum during the said time period due to the presence of “growth spurt”. Normally, the skeletal growth or bone growth retard after the age of 18 as the so-called growth plates get closed. However, there have been certified cases of growth even later. We have compiled the following ways, which you can utilize to achieve your own growth and height potential.

  1. Height increasing foods
  2. Prevention from disease: boost your immunity to increase height
  3. Adequate sleep to increase height
  4. Avoid growth stunting factors to increase height
  5. Height increasing exercise
  6. Good posture to increase height
  7. Homeopathic treatment to increase height
  8. Surgical alternatives to increase height
  9. Embrace your height

What you put inside your body plays a significant role in your physical growth. Hence, nutrition plays a vital role in determining the height of an individual. It is the most important external factor to regulate one's height. In the absence of certain nutrients, growth stunts. This is known as nutritional growth retardation (NGR). NGR is most prevalent in populations that are stuck in the throes of poverty but it may affect anyone who is nutritionally deficient.

To avoid NGR and ensure normal growth rate, you need to eat a balanced diet. In addition to this, you can also eat certain foods that may help you to increase your height like:

Proteins
Consumption of adequate amount of protein is requisite for growth, be it growing in height or overall body mass. This is why we call proteins as “building blocks of the human body”. Some rich sources of proteins are legumes, lentils, eggs, milk, meat and green vegetables.

Vitamins
Vitamins are essential micronutrients when it comes to growth and development. When it comes to height,  vitamin D and A are extremely important. Make sure your food is rich in these two vitamins.

  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium that is required for skeletal growth and bone density. Foods that contain rich amounts of vitamin D are fish (Salmon, Tuna and Mackerel) and fish oils. Small amounts of vitamin D is also present in beef, liver, cheese and egg yolk. Currently, there are many vitamin D fortified foods like milk, yoghurt and juices available in the market. Daily intake of vitamin D should be 600 IU or 15 micrograms. Another source of this vitamin is the sunlight, giving it the name of the “sunshine vitamin”. Our skin has the capability to produce vitamin D from sunlight. If you are not able to get enough of vitamin D from food intake and sun exposure, supplements can be taken under doctor’s supervision.
  • Vitamin A: Various studies have demonstrated the role of vitamin A in determining the growth and height of an individual. If you want to grow taller, eat foods that are rich in vitamin A like green leafy vegetables, fish, beef, broccoli, carrots, apricots and mango. The daily dose should be between 700 to 900 for someone at 14 years and older. Children are at the lower end of that range.

Minerals 
Other micronutrients that are vital for growing taller are minerals. Some of the important minerals you can take are calcium, zinc and iron.

  • Calcium: Calcium is essential for your bone growth and skeletal development ultimately adding to your height. Our bone is mainly made up of calcium and phosphorus. So, you can imagine how important calcium is for your height. Since an easily available source of calcium is milk, its consumption can offset the requirement in children as well as adolescents.
  • Phosphorus: It combines with calcium to form calcium phosphate, which is the building unit of bones. Some foods rich in phosphorus are cottage cheese, chicken, peanut butter etc.
  • Potassium: Potassium not only prevents weakening of bones and teeth but also protects them from damage due to sodium. It also helps in increasing the calcium levels of bones. Bananas are one of the healthiest and cheapest sources of potassium.
  • Manganese: Manganese is yet another mineral that plays a role in maintaining bone health and aiding growth. Nuts and cereals are good sources of manganese.
  • Zinc and Iron: Adequate amounts of zinc and iron are crucial for attaining a good height and overall growth, especially in infants beyond the first 6 months. According to The Journal of Nutrition Research and Practice, supplementation of zinc helps in increasing height even in stunted infants and children.

(Read more: Zinc deficiency symptom)

Diseases affect an individual in multifarious ways. It may hamper growth (both in terms of size and height), food intake, nutrient absorption, bone growth and density. There are many diseases like diarrhoea, hookworms, intestinal parasitic infections that affect the growth of an individual, particularly in early childhood. Certain fevers, respiratory tract infections, asthma can also retard growth, resulting in short stature of the child.

To attain optimum genetically determined height, you need to control this environmental factor through healthy nutrient intake and by bolstering your immune system. For this, you have to consume a balanced diet with all the essential vitamins and minerals. A healthy lifestyle would further aid in disease prevention and maintenance of optimum health.

Some growth disorders can affect attainment of height directly. In these, the height of an individual gets suppressed due to inadequate growth hormone production or secretion. Growth hormone is secreted by the pituitary gland, which controls the growth of bones and other tissues. This hormone also helps in building muscle mass and repairing cells and tissues in children, adolescents and adults. Treatment of such growth disorders by supplemental growth hormone may be useful to gain optimum and genetically predetermined height. This has been done successfully in some high profile cases like Argentinian footballer Lionel Messi.

(Read more: Growth hormone deficiency treatment)

In the absence of adequate sleep, your body is not able to produce sufficient amounts of growth hormone. It is an established fact that sleep triggers the release of growth hormone in children. For a normal adult, at least 6-7 hours of uninterrupted sleep is recommended. Try to relax your mind and body before your bedtime. Avoid stimulants like coffee or sugars and arduous physical activity in order to fall asleep comfortably. Your muscles and bones will regenerate and recover properly only if you give them enough time. People who wake up with soreness and pain, need to adequately adjust their sleep to give maximum recovery time to their body.

  • Caffeine: High consumption of caffeine hinders your growth. You might have heard that snippet of bro-science around your gym locker. Well, even though it is not directly related to height, it does affect the growth of an individual indirectly. Consumption of caffeine makes you alert as it stimulates your central nervous system and does not let you sleep. It may also suppress your appetite and dissuade you from consumption of other nutrient-rich foods. Considering the direct relationship between growth, proper sleep and nutrition, caffeine may negatively affect your height.
  • Smoking: Just like caffeine, smoking does not affect physical growth and development directly but it has a significant effect on the overall health, including musculoskeletal growth. Studies have shown that smoking may lead to a reduction in bone density and muscle mass resulting in stunted growth. (Read more: Harmful effects of smoking)
  • Inhaled steroids: Use of corticosteroid therapy in inflammatory diseases like asthma has regressive effects on height. Asthma itself can cause stunted growth. To be on the safe side, the minimum effective dose should be taken for the treatment of the disease. You can also talk to your doctor about the probable effects of inhaled steroids on the growth of your child.
  • Alcohol: It can adversely affect your bones by decreasing bone density, increasing fracture vulnerability and delaying fracture healing.
  • Red and processed meat: Too much red and processed meat negatively affect your bone’s health and the ability to absorb and retain calcium. If you are someone who suffers from low bone mineral density (BMD), reduce your red meat intake to once or twice per week.

Exercise provides a stimulus for growth. Doing exercises like jumping, swimming and cycling have positive effects on height. The benefits may persist even into adulthood. Hanging and jumping exercises help by increasing bone mineral density and reduce the risk of fractures. Weight lifting and resistance training also enhance musculoskeletal development. Theories of retarded growth in teenagers lifting weight are quite popular; however, there is little scientific and rigorous evidence backing that claim.

If you are more a yoga person, there are numerous stretches that you can use to aid your height like Cobra stretch, pelvic shift etc. Yoga poses like triangle pose and downward dog also help in lengthening the spine and stretching your limbs.

However, it is important to point out that any rigorous physical activity increases the risk of injury including bone fractures. Frequent fractures can damage the growth plates of bones and therefore expert supervision must be used when involving in such activities.

Maintaining a good posture has no impact on height. However, it will help you maintain your natural height and appear tall and straight. As a knock-on effect, it should boost your confidence as well. Maintaining a good posture will also prevent you from rounded or internally rotated shoulders, back pain, spinal dysfunction and a potbelly.

To improve your posture do regular exercise and stretching, use ergonomic furniture and proper footwear and pay attention to your body. You can aid your posture by stretching regularly to lengthen your spine.

Since the pituitary gland is responsible for growth hormone production and secretion, the secret to a good height lies with stimulation of this gland. Homoeopathy has shown stimulating effects on the pituitary even beyond the age group of 18-20. It seems to increase natural levels of growth hormone, which can stimulate the growth of bones and cartilages. The best thing about this method is that there are no apparent side effects of homoeopathic medications.

For people who are desperate to increase their height, there are surgical procedures like cosmetic limb lengthening technique. This technique works on your body’s natural ability to heal tissues and is known to be helpful in correcting bone deformities and lengthening bones. However, these are not guaranteed to work. They also carry huge medical expenses and massive health risks.

Not everyone can be equally tall. Some people are giants while some suffer from dwarfism. But most of us lie somewhere in between the two extremes. Truth is, it's not completely in our hands. As we already know height is mainly genetically determined and we cannot do anything to change our genetic makeup, well not yet anyway.

Your quality of life should be governed by sound health and healthy habits. Try to strike a balance between your work, recreation and recovery. It should make you feel more optimistically at the gifts and abilities that you possess rather than lament the ones you might not. So, embrace your height wholeheartedly and be happy with what you have been blessed with. It will make you live a fuller and confident life.

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References

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  10. Sanguansak Rerksuppaphol, Lakkana Rerksuppaphol. Zinc supplementation enhances linear growth in school-aged children: A randomized controlled trial . Pediatr Rep. 2017 Nov 21; 9(4): 7294. PMID: 29383221
  11. Seul-Gi Park et al. Effects of zinc supplementation on catch-up growth in children with failure to thrive . Nutr Res Pract. 2017 Dec; 11(6): 487–491. PMID: 29209459
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