Does height increase after 21 years old?

by   |   Jun 11, 2024

Some people are not satisfied with their height and only wish to become taller. The bad news is, there is nothing much for most adults to do to increase height. Most people’s growth plates will have closed completely by the age of 20, after which any tricks to increase height will not work, even with exercise and nutrition. Despite this, there are ways to prevent loss of height and appear taller for adults to improve their looks as they age.

Let’s find out which factors determine height as well as the most effective techniques to look taller for adults in this article.

Factors that determine how tall you are

A person’s height is under the influence of different factors, including:

  • Genetics
  • Certain medical conditions
  • Sex
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Living environment.

The role of genetics in your height growth is significant as studies show that the biggest factor that decides the body type in fraternal twins is heredity. In other words, you are more likely to become tall if you have tall parents; on the contrary, your chance of having a good height is relatively low if your parents are short. Another biological factor that determines your height is sex. Men tend to have more total height potential than women. Some medical conditions also alter the growth of your height during childhood and adolescence, including:

  • Cancer
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Turner syndrome
  • Down syndrome
  • Untreated celiac disease
  • Arthritis
  • Dwarfism
  • Gigantism
  • Any conditions that require prolonged use of steroids.


Nutrition also impacts your height potential to a large extent. In fact, it can be as powerful as genetics in increasing height during your growing years. Having good nutrition from dietary sources of bone-nourishing minerals and vitamins can help children and teenagers grow taller fast and effectively whereas a lack of nutrition will prevent them from reaching their genetically predetermined height. Researchers have discovered that people have become taller as nutrition has improved over time. As a result, children and teenagers who consume a diet rich in protein, calcium, and other height-increasing nutrients will be able to maximize their growth potential.

Another determinant of height growth is exercise as growth hormone is released when you are active and involved in various physical activities. Once this hormone is secreted, children and teenagers with active growth plates in their bones will experience more growth than they would if they have a sedentary lifestyle.

Notwithstanding this, people will generally stop growing taller if their growth plates have fused completely. While boys tend to reach their final adult height by the age of 16, most girls achieve their adult height between the ages of 14 and 15. Cases of people growing taller after 19 are really rare.

Why do people stop growing taller after 21 years old?

Human height growth does not carry on forever. But at which point does it stop? The answer depends on the status of your growth plates. Growth plates are cartilage zones at the end of our long bones (the tibia and femur, for instance). They are where new bone forms to lengthen our limbs and ultimately our height.

Once these growth plates ossify or fuse completely, people cannot grow any taller. This phenomenon normally occurs two years after puberty ends. While boys tend to reach their final adult height by the age of 16, most girls achieve their adult height between the ages of 14 and 15. Cases of people growing taller after 19 are really rare.

How to maximize height growth effectively before the age of 21

Ensure good nutrition

As discussed earlier, nutrition plays an instrumental role in a person’s height development. During years of growth, good nutrition can support the body in growing healthily and help you achieve full height potential.

Here are some foods that can make you taller or at least maintain your height if you have already stopped growing:

  • Leafy greens such as cabbage, kale, spinach, and arugula. Known as superstars when it comes to nutrition, these leafy greens are rich in nutrients helpful for height growth.
  • Almonds. They are incredibly nutritious and bring a host of essential vitamins and minerals to the table.
  • Jam-packed with protein and a range of important nutrients, chicken is another excellent addition to your diet.
  • Eggs also contain many height-boosting nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, protein, vitamin B12, and folate.
  • Dairy is such a rich source of calcium that should not go unnoticed.
  • Fruits are a bountiful supply of vitamins, especially vitamin C. This vitamin is needed to produce collagen – a critical element in bone strength and cell growth. 

Lead a more active lifestyle

An active lifestyle can improve our quality of life in a variety of ways, including enhancing our mental health, increasing physical attractiveness, and promoting faster height gain. 

Studies have revealed that the production of growth hormone, one of the factors regulating height increase, is triggered by physical activity. It is especially so for exercises and sports that target your legs or large muscle groups such as swimming, bar hanging, cycling, basketball, or badminton.

You can start developing an active lifestyle from today by:

  • Choosing a sport or exercise you like best and setting a schedule to practice it weekly.
  • Joining one of your school’s sports clubs, external clubs, or other sports academies.

Get enough sleep every night

Not getting the required amount of sleep might stunt a person’s vertical growth as growth hormone is released at the highest levels during sleep. If you keep getting too little sleep or sleep deprived, growth hormone secretion is suppressed, thus hindering proper growth.

What is more, sleep is pivotal to other biological systems and processes. Research shows that most of the bone growth and bone mass formation take place during the night. Bone formation also relies on one’s immune system, which is potentially impaired by lack of sleep. Besides, lack of sleep can lead to fragile bones, low bone density, and risks of bone fracture.

Spend time in the sun

The best way to absorb healthy vitamin D is spending time in the sun. If you are under 21 years old and are still growing, try to get some sunlight exposure, even 15 minutes a day is enough. That way your body can synthesize vitamin D by itself to better absorb calcium and grow your bones.

There are many activities to get involved in while spending time in the sun. You can exercise, play sports, walk your dogs, or take a stroll.

Keep a healthy weight

If you follow the above tips regarding nutrition, sleep, and exercise, not only can you grow taller but you also keep your weight in check. A healthy weight will make sure your body can grow to its maximum potential without all the extra pressure on your spine caused by excess weight.

Read more about how losing weight can make you taller here.

Stay away from stimulants

Smoking and drinking are two major growth-stunting factors to stay as far away as possible if you are still in your growing years. As if the constantly promoted health risks of smoking are not enough, smoking is recently found to stunt growth in teenagers. On the other hand, alcohol can lower growth hormone levels in teenage girls and boys. In particular, chronic alcohol consumption throughout adolescence severely affects limb growth.

Practice good posture

We are well aware that good posture while sitting and standing makes us look taller. But did you know poor posture can actually devastate your height potential?

It is easy to develop slouching habits when sitting at our desks or sleeping positions that are not good for our posture in the long run. Although breaking these habits can be challenging at first, you can start today by being mindful of your posture and attempting to correct it while standing, sitting, or even sleeping. 

Taking note of your posture will pay off by reducing muscle tension, and it might get easier for you to attain your full potential height.

Take supplements to grow taller

Height growth supplements are gaining in popularity as more and more people realize their effects in accelerating height increase rate. The most common ingredients found in these supplements are calcium and vitamin D; however, some natural supplements also include collagen, herbs, and other nutrients that support faster bone growth and better overall health. Learn more about the top 10 best height growth pills in this article.

How to look taller and avoid height loss for adults

Now that you know the answer to your question of “Does height increase after 21?”, you should consider these tips to appear taller and prevent height loss as you age instead of looking for different methods to increase height from unauthentic sources.

Strengthening your core muscles

A person can look taller and maintain good posture with a strong midsection. Core muscles are the muscles along the spinal column and in your abdomen. As these muscles support your spine, they need to be strong or else your spine may get compressed when it is not properly supported. This can eventually result in slouching.

To strengthen your core muscles, you should perform these exercises:

  • Abdominal crunch: Lie on your back with your feet on the floor and your knees bent. Then, raise your shoulders and head using your core muscles.
  • Superman: Lie on your stomach and extend your legs, arms, and head off the floor; then, hold the position.
  • Plank: Keep the muscles in your abdomen engaged, hold this pose at the top of a push-up.

Improving your posture

Back pain and headaches that usually accompany slouching can be avoided by sitting and standing with good posture. Besides, better posture will make you look taller as well.


You should consider these tips to improve your posture while standing:

  • Hold your head level and in line with your body
  • Keep your shoulders back
  • Keep the belly muscles lightly engaged and pull your belly toward the spine
  • Do not lock your knees
  • Place your feet shoulder-width apart
  • Let your arms hang naturally at your sides
  • Place your weight mostly on the balls of your feet.

When sitting, keep in mind the following points:

  • Allow your shoulders to comfortably rest
  • Use a towel or small pillow to support your back
  • Do not cross your legs
  • While seated with your feet on the floor, you should adjust the height of your chair so that your thighs remain parallel to the floor
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor.

Good posture secures proper space between your vertebras and thus, makes you appear taller and longer.

Preventing age-related height loss

You can begin taking steps to prevent loss of height due to the aging process instead of looking for ways to increase height as an adult. In fact, a person may lose as much as half an inch in height every 10 years after they reach the age of 40. This age-related loss of height is caused by vertebral compression, osteoporosis, and other reasons. You may even be subject to a significant height loss over time.

Following these tips can help you combat age-related shrinking:

  • Stay properly hydrated
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Avoid cigarette smoking
  • In order to combat muscle loss, try to practice weight-bearing exercises regularly
  • Ensure sufficient nutrition, especially your calcium intake.

Bottom line: Does height increase after 21 years old?

You can only grow taller if your growth plates are still active. However, for most people, their growth plates will have already closed by the age of 20, which means they cannot increase their height after that. Despite this, there are many ways for adults to look taller and correct their posture. Besides, there are preventive measures for people over 21 years old to take to protect them from loss of height as they age.

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