Our society has deemed height as one of the desirable attributes of the human physique. Although it’s purely physical, short statue can cause low self-esteem and in some cases, discrimination as in certain sports or activities. What do you do if you are not measuring up in terms of height? While genetics can predispose you to shorter height, nutrition plays a big part in determining healthy bone development and growth. Choosing foods that boost bone and muscle growth, together with exercise and ample sleep can put you in a more favorable position of attaining your ideal height.
Protein is made up of amino acids, which form the building blocks of cells, enzymes, hormones and antibodies in your body. It is needed for healthy skin, hair, nails, cartilage, bones and muscles. Your body needs a supply of protein to build and repair tissues. It follows that a diet rich in protein is essential to generate growth of your bones and muscles, both of which contribute to height growth.
Complete protein sources provide all the essential amino acids the body needs for healthy growth. Examples include meat, poultry, fish, dairy products (milk, cheese, and yogurt) and eggs. These super proteins provide all of the 20 amino acids that your body needs, including eight amino acids not synthesized by the body. Plant-based proteins like beans, nuts and whole grains are also good choices as they offer healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals as well.
How much protein do you need? The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) recommends that 10 to 35% of your daily calories come from protein.
According to American Academy of Pediatrics, 50% of the calcium in adult bones is laid down during the growing years of adolescence. To attain healthy height growth, it is essential to take adequate amounts of calcium to boost bone health, especially during adolescence. Rich sources of calcium include milk, low-fat cheese, soy products (tofu, soy drink), beans, green leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach, and chard), oysters, juices and cereals fortified with calcium.
Since calcium uptake by the body is facilitated by vitamin D (the body makes vitamin D from sunshine), it is important to go outdoors for some sunshine exposure (at least 10 to 15 minutes, twice a week). You can also get vitamin D from dietary sources: fish, fortified milk, eggs and cod liver oil.
Some common foods can inhibit calcium absorption and therefore hinder height growth: soft drinks, coffee, sweetener, excessive salt, alcohol and nicotine found in cigarettes.
Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral (after calcium) in the body, and 85% of the phosphorus is found in bones and teeth. It combines with calcium to form calcium phosphate, the source of bone strength. Most protein foods (see above) are also high in phosphorus. Other examples include nuts, seeds, whole grains, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, bran, fruits and vegetables.
About 50% of the magnesium found in the body is concentrated in the bone. Magnesium is responsible for more than 300 biochemical actions in the body and one of them is maintaining bone and muscle health. Garner your supply of magnesium from green leafy vegetables (magnesium forms the chlorophyll molecule, which gives vegetables the green color), legumes, peas, nuts, seeds and whole grains.