Most people are under the impression that genetics is the sole determinant of their height, but little did they know that there are other environmental factors contributing to their overall height, namely nutrition, exercise, sleep, and living environment. By influencing these factors, one can alter the height growth process to their advantage and make the most of their growing years to reach their desired height.
Between 1 year of age and puberty, most people grow at a rate of 2 inches per year. Once puberty hits, they can gain about 4 inches in height each year. For girls, the pubertal growth spurt typically begins early in their teenage years whereas boys may not experience this sudden increase in height until the end of their teens.
It should be noted that the growth rate differs between individuals, and you generally stop growing taller after you go through puberty. This means that as an adult, you are unlikely to increase your height naturally without resorting to medical help. However, there are certain things you can do throughout childhood and adolescence to maximize your potential for growth. You should also continue these as an adult to promote overall well-being and avoid losing height as you get older.
How to grow taller after puberty?
Regular exercise has a variety of benefits. It strengthens your bones and muscles, promotes growth hormone production, and allows you to maintain a healthy weight. Children and teenagers should get at least one hour of exercise a day to optimize height gain. During this time, they should focus on:
- Aerobic activities, such as jumping rope, playing tag, or biking
- Strength-building exercises, such as sit-ups or push-ups
- Flexibility exercises, such as yoga.
Exercise also benefits adults in that it reduces the risk of osteoporosis, helps you maintain overall health, and retains your height. In fact, shrinking in height is considered a normal part of aging unless you have a bone disease. People typically start to lose height after the age of 40 and shrink about half an inch in height each decade. It is possible for both men and women to lose another inch after the age of 80. The reason for this phenomenon is that our spine compresses over time. As we age, the discs between our vertebrae in the spine dehydrate, lose fluid, and thin out, thus resulting in height loss. To avoid height shrinkage or at least reduce it as much as possible, you should practice exercises such as jumping, running, hiking, jumping rope, brisk walking, weight training, climbing stairs, dancing, and tennis as they put stress on your bones, thereby signaling your body to add new cells to strengthen them. For the best results, combine weight-bearing exercises with aerobics to increase bone density.
Give your bones the nutrients they need
During your growing years, it is crucial that you get all of the nutrients your body needs. Calcium and Vitamin D are instrumental in building healthy and strong bones, but Vitamin C and Vitamin K also play an important role in bone health.
- Calcium: Our bones and teeth account for about 99 percent of the total amount of Calcium in our bodies. The average daily Calcium intakes of women and men are 1,000 mg and 1,200 mg respectively. The best sources of Calcium come from foods such as almonds, dairy, kale, broccoli, salmon, and soy products.
- Vitamin D: Your body requires this nutrient to absorb Calcium which keeps the bones strong, healthy, and protected. The lack of Vitamin D may cause you to have lower bone density, lose bone, or be more likely to break bones as you age. Some food sources of Vitamin D include fortified milk, egg yolks, and oily fish like salmon, wild-caught mackerel, tuna, and sardines. You can check if Vitamin D has been added to a particular product through food labels. Another source of Vitamin D is the sun, but be careful because too much sunlight exposure might be harmful to your skin. You can also provide your body with sufficient Vitamin D using supplements.
- Vitamin C: In addition to normal bone development, Vitamin C is also needed to form collagen – the fibrous protein part of the bone, cartilage, and other structures. The recommended daily intake of Vitamin C is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. Some foods rich in Vitamin C include strawberries, citrus fruits, raspberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, cauliflower, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, and parsley.
- Vitamin K: Vitamin K has been found to increase bone strength and decrease fractures in people suffering from osteoporosis. You can consume plenty of this nutrient in such foods as parsley, leafy green vegetables, prunes, kiwi, and avocados. Vitamin K also works synergistically with Vitamin D to increase bone density and positively affects Calcium balance, a key mineral in bone metabolism.
Take supplements with caution
Supplements can be used to increase height in children and teenagers as well as combat height loss in older adults. Older adults may wish to take Calcium or Vitamin D supplements to reduce the risk of osteoporosis whereas if you have a condition that affects your growth hormone production, your doctor may recommend a supplement that stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete more growth hormone. Children and teenagers may enjoy even more benefits from supplements as they provide their growing bodies with essential nutrients that may be lacking in their daily diets. However, you should check the status of your growth plates before making any purchase. Once your growth plates become fused together, there is no chance for you to increase your height no matter how many supplements you take.
Practice good posture
Not only does poor posture make you look shorter than you really are but over time slouching or slumping also affects your actual height. Your back should curve naturally in three places. If you regularly slouch or slump, these curves may shift to accommodate your new posture, which can cause pain in your back and neck.
The key to good posture is being mindful of how you sleep, sit, and stand. You can talk to your doctor about incorporating ergonomics into your daily routine. Depending on your needs, a memory foam pillow or standing desk may be all you need to correct your posture.
You can also practice exercises that are designed to improve your posture over time. Some back stretching exercises target muscles in the back to increase range of motion and flexibility in the joints. They specifically help you stand up straight and correct your posture. Strengthen your back by implementing a regular Pilates or yoga practice, stretches with stability balls, or other simple stretches. If you are still unsure of where to begin, try talking to your healthcare providers. They can help develop an exercise routine that suits you.
Avoid cigarettes and alcohol
Some studies have pointed out a direct relationship between smoking and decreased bone density. Smoking can possibly damage bones, increase the risk of fractures, and slow down the healing process after a fracture.
Heavy and chronic alcohol use has been linked to decreased bone formation, low bone mass, delayed fracture healing, and an increased chance of fractures. Alcohol can interfere with hormone production that is needed to absorb Calcium. As a result, it makes it harder for your body to use Calcium, and ultimately to grow taller.
By following the above tips, you can ensure healthy and optimal height growth throughout your childhood and adolescence. Besides, once you have become an adult and your body has reached its final adult height, you can still practice these tips to avoid height loss as you age. It is never too late to take care of your height, so start now!