Bone growth has long been a bone of contention amongst scientists and health care providers with tremendous efforts being put into the field so as to provide a clear picture of the human physical development process, thanks to which we are now better aware of our anatomy. Still, not everyone is familiar with this knowledge and consequently miss the golden opportunity to reach their maximum potential height. This article will give you basic information about the process of bone growth, thereby suggesting the best ways to boost bone growth while you still can.
The process of bone growth
The human skeleton is made almost entirely of cartilage early in the development of a fetus. Gradually, the relatively soft cartilage turns into the hard bone through ossification. Ossification is a process in which bone tissues are created from cartilage. There are 5 steps involved in ossification in which the human bones form from cartilage, specifically:
- The cartilage model of bones forms and continues to grow as ossification takes place.
- The middle of the bone is a primary ossification center where ossification starts.
- Ossification then begins to occur at the ends of the bone, or secondary ossification centers.
- The medullary cavity forms where red bone marrow is contained.
- The new bones formed during primary and secondary ossifications meet at epiphyseal plates, and articular cartilage forms. The bone growth process ends .
Primary and secondary ossification centers
Throughout the process of bone growth, ossification starts at a point in the cartilage called the primary ossification center. Although a few short bones begin their primary ossification after birth, this process generically takes place during fetal development. From the primary ossification center, ossification occurs towards both ends of the bone, and it eventually forms the shaft of the bone in the case of long bones .
Secondary ossification centers, on the other hand, form right after birth. Thanks to these, the ends of our bones are created. Until the person reaches skeletal maturity, the shaft and ends of the bones are separated by a growing zone of cartilage .
Ever since birth, the cartilage remaining in the skeleton has been continuously growing, thereby allowing our bones to grow in shape and size. However, our bones cannot keep growing in length once fusion has taken place at epiphyseal plates and all of the cartilage has been replaced by bone, at which point we reach our skeletal maturity. This usually takes place by the age of 18-25.
Teens who use anabolic steroids to speed up the process of skeletal maturity can risk having a shorter period of cartilage growth before fusion occurs. This means that the use of steroids can make teens shorter as adults than they would have been otherwise.
5 ways to boost bone growth
Now that you grasp the process of how your bones grow in length and width, it is worthwhile to understand the different ways in which you can boost your bone growth, especially during your growing years, to get the best chance of growing taller and achieving your desired height.
Get enough sleep
Adequate sleep facilitates the self-repair process of many parts of your body, including bone tissues. Our bones have a mechanism of replacing damaged structures from minor damages during daily activities to severe fractures and injuries. In addition, the highest amount of growth hormone is secreted at midnight. As a result, for optimal bone growth, children and teenagers are normally advised to go to sleep before 11 P.M. Notwithstanding this, many teenagers have a habit of staying up late or not getting enough sleep. Not only is their height growth negatively affected by lack of sleep but it can engender other underlying health issues.
Given the importance of sleep to bone growth, you should try to adjust your sleeping pattern and cultivate good sleep habits if you want to avoid stunting your height growth.
Monitor your diet
It is no secret that calcium and vitamin D play an instrumental role in building healthy bones. For this reason, try to get enough calcium and vitamin D, ideally through the foods you eat every day. Although dairy products may contain the highest amount of calcium, other dairy-free foods such as leafy green vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and calcium-fortified orange juice can provide your body with ample amounts of this nutrient. Aside from foods, the best natural source of vitamin D is the sun. With this in mind, make sure that you have enough exposure to direct sunlight, even a few minutes a day can do the trick.
This method is only effective as long as you get rid of unhealthy foods and drinks. Salty foods and alcohol are found to be the main culprits of calcium flushing. Alcohol inhibits the synthesis of vitamin D, hence hindering calcium absorption and bone growth. Also, regular caffeine consumption causes calcium loss and eventually hampers bone growth.
If you want to make the most of your growing years to ensure healthy bone growth and maximum height growth, try to avoid getting too much alcohol, coffee, and sodium-rich foods like junk foods. Instead, fill your daily nutrition intake with foods rich in proteins, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin D, and calcium, either plant-based or animal-derived.
With digital devices at your fingertips, it is extremely tempting to stay at home all day and barely go outside. However, this kind of sedentary lifestyle has no benefits whatsoever on your bone growth as well as overall health. On the contrary, staying physically active will establish steady bone growth and minimize risks of fracture. When some areas of the bone are exposed to dynamic forces, they will adapt and strengthen themselves. Along this line, the response of bone to exercise will boost bone formation and prevent bone loss. While moderate exercise will undoubtedly do wonders for bone growth, vigorous activities can make you prone to risks of injury.
The key to healthy bone growth is to partake in physical activities more often and limit your screen time. Height-boosting sports such as basketball, swimming, and yoga are beneficial to your bone growth; likewise, a small burst of activity like dancing around the house, walking in the park, or skipping also has a positive impact on your bone health.
This section is particularly for adolescents and young adults who want to promote their bone growth and increase their height by a few more inches. Cool as smoking might appear, it is associated with many health problems, including potentially stunted bone growth. Similar to alcohol, smoking is detrimental to your bone growth in many aspects. The body’s hormonal balance can be broken by increases of cortisol in smokers. Smoking also reduces the blood supply to bones, thus weakening the absorption of vitamin D and calcium and engendering higher risks of bone fractures. Furthermore, nicotine damages the bone-producing cells called osteoblasts, which lowers bone mass and slows bone growth.
If it is challenging to quit smoking, you may have more than one reason to try harder now!
Pay attention to your epiphyseal plates
All of these methods may go to waste if your epiphyseal plates (also known as growth plates) have already closed completely. Normally, the growth plates at the two ends of long bones are active or “open” during childhood and adolescence and close after puberty. When they completely harden and stop developing, bone growth also stops. Getting plenty of sleep, playing sports, or eating nutritious foods cannot reverse the closure to boost your bone growth nor increase your height by any inches. These activities in this case will only help to support your skeletal wellness and prevent osteoporosis; they are no longer effective for bone growth in length.
Bone is a very active tissue and its cells are constantly forming and resorbing bone matrix. Nonetheless, you only have one chance of growing taller in your whole lifetime, which is before and during puberty. Once puberty ends and your growth plates close completely, your bones can no longer grow in length. If you are serious about your height and would like to reach or even grow beyond your genetically predetermined height, following our tips on how to boost bone growth will deliver the expected result.