Can you still grow taller at 21?

by   |   Mar 07, 2021

“Is it possible to grow taller at 21?” is a common question asked by those who are not happy with the height that their parents pass on to them. It’s no secret that our height is largely determined by genetics; still, environmental factors also have a role to play in one’s height growth. Nutrition is the primary factor among environmental forces that dictate how tall you will be. Frankly speaking, you won’t be able to reach your full potential height if you’re malnourished throughout your growing years. On the contrary, you’re likely to reach or even grow taller than your genetically predetermined height if you get enough nutrition for your growing body.

Which genes dictate your height?

With a view to studying which specific genes determine a person’s height, scientists have been doing research on fraternal twins. The reason why fraternal twins are chosen for such studies instead of identical twins is that despite the differences in their DNA, they grow up in the same surroundings with more or less similar environmental factors. By comparing the genomes of the twins after they reach their full adult height, scientists can know what makes them different from one another.

To point out exactly which parts of the genomes are different, thousands of fraternal twin pairs are studied. For the time being, results have pinpointed toward chromosomes 7, 8, 20, and the X chromosome. Still, as genetics is a complicated field and not as easy as it seems in your biology classes, scientists haven’t reached a precise conclusion yet.

grow taller at 21

Nutrition and height

Over the years researchers have found a link between a person’s protein intake and their height gain during the formative years. For instance, after the end of the war, Japan’s population had more access to fish protein, which led to a three-inch increase in the country’s average height. Or in the case of the Danish, its wealth per capita has made it the tallest country in the world. What can be deduced from this is that the height over generations increases if people can afford to eat well.

The connection between these two long-term correlations is easy to make – between generations, nutrition can gradually engender an increase in height. However, this doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to own exceptional height by eating. It just suggests that you can add a bit onto your genes with proper nutrition through your developmental years. You’ll do fine with a balanced and healthy diet of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.

Can you still grow taller at 21?

Your bones keep getting longer as you grow up. This is made possible thanks to the growth plates or scientifically known as epiphyseal plates at the ends of your long bones. When you grow, these plates produce new bone tissue to lengthen your bones. Your growth plates are added onto at the fastest pace when you go through growth spurts, especially once puberty hits. Growing pains in the bones can even be experienced by some as their bones expand. Most people will stop growing by the time they’re 20 years old, at which point the bones undergo ossification and the growth plates seal themselves. After that, your bones can no longer grow longer, and neither can you grow taller naturally.

If you search the web and stumble into articles on how to grow taller at 21 years old, chances are they’re not credible. Although there are still cases of late closure of the growth plates, they’re really rare. What is more, some people even experience premature closure of their growth plates in which they cannot increase height naturally after 16-19 years of age. As a result, your efforts to look for tips on how to grow taller at 21 are likely to turn out to be in vain.

How to know whether a person’s growth plates have fused or not

Before following any online advice on how to grow taller at 21, the first thing you need to do is to get an X-ray of your limbs. Then, look for the line between your epiphysis (the rounded ends of long bones) and diaphysis (the shafts of long bones). Here is a picture of a growth plate for better understanding.

An epiphyseal scar is a white line on the X-ray. If this white line shows on your X-ray result, it means the growth plates have fused or closed, indicating that it cannot create new bone tissue and you cannot grow taller naturally.

Fluctuations in height on a daily basis

Throughout the day, your height tends to slightly decrease. When you are in a standing or sitting position, your spinal discs are compressed as your shoulders and head put pressure on your spine. This makes you lose by as much as 1% of your total height.

Don’t worry much, your spine will expand again simply by lying down. Several sites out there claim that hanging and stretching exercises can help you grow taller at 21, but this is just a half-truth. Stretching and hanging can make you slightly taller by reversing the compression until your spine compresses again. The 1% of height loss due to spinal compression can be restored by hanging and stretching exercises. Yet, they only bring you to your true height rather than increasing your height substantially.

grow taller at 21

Along this line, when measuring their heights in space, astronauts can be taller by as much as 2 inches. Their spine is not compressed in a low or no-gravity environment. Besides, the fluid between the spinal discs has enough pressure to fight against any forces pressing against their spines, thus protecting them from that 1% height loss.

What can actually be done to grow taller at 21?

There are actually some things you can do, most of which require responsible treatments. To reach your desired height, the best thing you can do is to eat properly during your growing years. As discussed earlier, you may be able to achieve or even exceed your genetics by eating a healthy and balanced diet filled with vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Exercise and sports can be added to your routine, along with adequate sleep and a healthy lifestyle to grow as tall as you naturally can.

Hormonal treatment

If a kid has a healthy diet but isn’t growing, he or she should be taken to see the doctor. Hormonal treatment can be recommended if the kid should be higher based on genetic predictors but fall into the bottom 3rd percentile for his/her age. One can grow by more than 9 centimeters through HGH treatments. You should see a doctor and ask them about it if this is the case for you.

Before the treatment is carried out, they would perform tests to see whether your body is generating enough growth hormone or not. A responsible doctor won’t suggest hormonal treatment if your body is generating enough growth hormone as your gland could stop functioning properly and shrink by too many artificially introduced hormones.


Moreover, a majority of people have poor posture. Although you can hardly grow taller at 21, you can fully express your height if you sit and stand straight. You don’t need to do any special exercises to develop proper posture, it’s all about focusing on standing tall and being active. Learn more about how to improve your posture to maximize your height here.

Spinal conditions

Some spinal conditions such as kyphosis or scoliosis can make you appear shorter than your actual height. The diagnosis and treatment of these conditions can add inches to your height, thereby allowing you to reach your full height.


Leg lengthening surgery is an expensive, painful, controversial, and high-risk surgery that some people opt for in an attempt to grow taller at 21. This surgery requires the breaking of your fibula and tibia which are then kept separated by a lengthening device.

You can’t put weight on your bones throughout the leg lengthening process but at the same time, 1-2 hours of physical therapy on a daily basis is a must to prevent your bones from getting stiff. It can take months for this process to complete. Once new bones are formed, you need to spend another 6 months strengthening your bones in the absence of the lengthening device. It might take you as long as 2 years for a leg lengthening surgery to grow taller at 21. Even after all the pain and effort, you still have to be extremely careful with possible complications, including:

  • New bones might not develop at proper angles.
  • An infection would be your worst nightmare.
  • Your new bones can break within 2-3 months or they might not form solidly.
  • You may have uneven leg lengths afterward.
  • You could even lose one or both of your legs entirely in the case of nerve damage.
  • You may not grow as tall as your expectations.

Most of the time, leg lengthening surgery is used as a treatment for people whose legs are uneven. Responsible doctors would go through a psych evaluation beforehand to determine whether a person can handle the recovery process. A proportion of people disregard this method to grow taller at 21 as risky, dangerous, and pointless.

Height isn’t the most important thing in life

There’s nothing wrong with having a modest height. In fact, some short men and women do end up being the most powerful people in the world. The more confident you are, the better you project yourself and accomplish whatever you want. Try to make the most of who you are. At the end of the day, what matters is what you can do in life, not how tall you appear.

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