When I was growing up, my goals included (like many young boys) playing linebacker in the NFL and having a pitching career on a Major League Baseball team. Although, statistically speaking, doing either of those things (let alone both) is nearly impossible for any kid, it’s much more of a possibility for bigger, taller people.
Things were going well for me on both fronts (linebacking and pitching) until I hit 14 years old. I was 5’9 and had been growing quickly over the previous year. The estimate I had for my full height was 6’2”. For some reason, certainly much of it genetic, my growth suddenly stopped. Along with my growth spurt went my potential for being a professional athlete. At least that’s my excuse.
Now that I have five boys who appear to be on the same track as me, destined to be short, I am going to share with you what I’ve learned about how to grow taller. I’m in the beginning phases of helping my sons, who range from 10 years down to 1 year in age. We’ll see over the next few years how well these strategies for growing taller actually work.
In the meantime, we’ll rely on the experience of the experts and those who have had success.
Height Potential: Genetics Versus Nutrition
When I began my research, I quickly found out some good news: not all of a person’s height comes from genetics alone. In fact, scientists estimate that between 60% and 80% of a person’s height comes from genetic factors, and the other 20% to 40% comes from other factors, mostly nutrition. Diseases and injuries can stunt growth.
So, based on that information, a person has up to 40% of the equation to work with. The focus of what can be done seems to always come back to nutrition.
Nutrition for Increased Height: Healthy Height Shake Mix
As I was researching whether it’s even possible to affect a person’s natural height (positively, that is…poor nutrition has been known to make a person shorter) and looking for specific ways to grow taller, I came across a product called Healthy Height. The product, a shake mix that comes in chocolate and vanilla flavors and retails for about $35 on Amazon, claims to provide “nutrition shown in a clinical study to HELP KIDS GROW*”
The information attached to the asterisk on the tail end of that claim points out that a clinical study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2014, showed that over a 6-month period, healthy children in the years before puberty, ranging in ages from 3 to 9, who were short or lean gained enough weight and height using the Healthy Height shake mix that the improvement could be considered considered statistically significant. In layman’s terms, kids who received the nutrients supplied by the shake grew more than those who didn’t.
It is also important to note that in addition to taking the Healthy Height mix supplement, the children in the study also ate a balanced diet, which I take to mean that the claim is removed if you take the shake mix and eat junk food all day or starve yourself.
The ingredient list for Healthy Height includes the following:
Healthy Height Ingredient List
- Whey Protein Concentrate
- Nonfat Dry Milk
- High Oleic Sunflower Oil
- Organic Cane Sugar
- Cocoa Powder
- Inulin (from Artichoke)
- Modified Food Starch
- Natural Flavors
- Monk Fruit Extract
- Vitamin E (Tocopherols) to preserve freshness
Vitamins and Minerals
- Calcium Citrate
- Zinc (Gluconate)
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
- Iron (Ferrous Fumarate)
- Vitamin D3
- Vitamin A (Palmitate)
These ingredients and the formulation for the Healthy Height shake mix were developed by a scientific advisory board comprised of six pediatric medical experts listed in the company’s product brochure available online. The brochure also references studies that contributed to their conclusions about nutrition and height.
Alternatives for Height Inducing Nutrition
For people who are who’s not interested in paying $70 per month (the Healthy Height mix lasts about two weeks when taken as directed), a diet can be constructed to have similar effects.
What kids need most to increase their height is protein. Recommended foods for children to obtain the adequate protein include:
- Whole Grains
Some of these foods (milk and whole grains in my family’s case) may not agree with your child’s digestive system, or they may have allergies. Fortunately, there is a large enough selection of food products that you should be able to find a variety of things your child will eat.
Besides protein, it’s essential for kids to have adequate minerals and vitamins, including these ones in particular:
- Calcium: aids in bone growth
- Vitamin A: contributes to cell generation and also contributes to bone growth
- Vitamin B1: helps regulate the digestion process and aids in providing blood to organs
- Vitamin D: helps the body absorb phosphorus and calcium, which contribute to bone growth
Is It Too Late to Change Your Height?
You’ll notice that the Healthy Height shake mix and other nutritional recommendations are geared towards kids who have not reached puberty yet. Boys reach their maximum heights normally in their late teens. Girls reach their maximum heights in their mid-teens. In order for improved nutrition to have a significant effect upon a person, a height-assisting nutritional diet or or supplement program should be done beginning at around age three. By the time a child reaches teenage years, the benefits of the improved nutrition have been diminished, although there is some benefit that can be gained even in the years prior to when a person reaches maximum height.
For those of us who are older (adults) and who would rather be taller, the sad fact is that we’ve lost our chance unless our pituitary starts acting up, which introduces a whole new set of problems.
Why Does Height Matter So Much?
Several studies comparing people who are shorter versus their taller counterparts have found that taller people are generally more wealthy and powerful, and are given leadership opportunities more frequently than shorter people. Taller people also naturally excel at sports like football, baseball, and basketball because of the advantage given them by their longer limbs. Overall, taller people have been found to be happier than shorter people.
I’ve known plenty of guys whose severe short height made it difficult for them to find spouses, especially because of the natural desire most women have to be matched with someone larger than them.
Obviously there are lots of exceptions to these general rules, but with all this information considered, it is a worthwhile goal to help a child obtain the full height of his stature. This is especially true for boys who are below average height. With proper nutrition, it may be possible to add one or two inches to a boy’s ultimate height.
Height Matters, But It Isn’t Everything
Despite all this discussion about height and the need for more of it by the means I’ve discussed in this article, it’s also important to remember that there are many other factors that contribute to success, happiness, and prosperity. Even for short people, the sky is still the limit.