A child’s height and build are dependent on their genetic makeup. It means that not all kids can grow as tall as they want to, no matter how healthily they eat.
But it is essential to give your children the right kind of foods to support their growth and promote healthy height gain. In this MomJunction post, we tell you about the foods that could aid in the child’s overall physical development, which also includes a healthy increase in height.
Can A Child’s Height Be Increased?
A child’s height mostly depends on the height of their parents and other close relatives.
Children grow at their own pace, and the rate of their height growth can significantly increase during puberty. After puberty, both boys and girls are likely to gain two inches (five centimeters) in height every year (1). However, the final, adult height of the child can depend on several factors, including genetics that plays a significant role (2).
However, the lack of nutrition could hinder the child’s growth and prevent them from attaining the ideal height (3). Therefore, providing nutrient-rich foods is essential to help the child attain the right height.
Best Foods To Increase A Child’s Height
Foods rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals play an essential role in muscle and bone development required for a healthy increase in height. Here are a few such foods that you can consider including in the child’s diet.
An egg has several nutrients such as protein for healthy muscle growth and vitamin D for strong bones (4). Eggs also contain other vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids for healthy bodily functions.
The vitamins and minerals in milk support bone development (5). Whole milk has more nutrients than the skimmed versions.
Consider including products made from soybean in the child’s diet. A few examples of soybean products are soy flour, soy chunks, tofu, and soy milk. Soybeans are high in protein that is considered equivalent to animal protein (6). This makes an excellent protein source for vegans. Regular consumption of soy may help improve bone health (7).
4. Red meat
Red meat is rich in protein and several micronutrients, including iron (8) that is essential to prevent anemia. Anemia, in turn, can cause weakness and may affect a child’s growth. However, red meat is also rich in saturated fat, so it is good to limit its consumption to a couple of servings in a week.
5. Lean meat
Fish and chicken are ideal options for lean meat, which is rich in protein but low in saturated fat.
Beans are also rich in protein while being low in fat content (9). Most beans contain a good amount of calcium, which is essential for a growing child.
7. Leafy vegetables
You may not think of leafy vegetables when you think of bone health. But did you know leafy vegetables contain calcium and vitamins that are essential for healthy bone growth? Leafy vegetables are a good source of calcium for children who do not consume milk due to lactose intolerance or dietary choices (10). Leafy vegetables are also a good source of vitamin K that is essential for bone health (11).
Nuts contain a mix of protein and calcium (12). You can consider adding an assortment of nuts to the child’s diet. A few examples of nuts that contain the right amount of protein are almonds, pistachios, and walnuts.
Most seeds contain protein, and some of them even contain minerals. For example, chia seeds contain calcium (13). Other seeds can be roasted or used raw in salads. You can also include seed oils in the child’s diet for a healthy increase in height.
Grains may not contain much calcium but can be a source of magnesium, a mineral that plays an important role in promoting bone health (14). Include an assortment of grains in your child’s diet. Use whole grain that comes with the husk, a good source of fiber.
11. Mineral-rich fruits
Fruits are not often associated with minerals, but some fruits contain an adequate amount of calcium and other minerals required for the healthy growth of the bones. Examples of fruits with calcium content are oranges, apricots, kiwi, and pineapple (15) (16) (17) (18).
The food that your child eats significantly influences several components of their health, including their ability to grow tall. However, it is not the only factor to determine their height. Rather than focusing on foods to help them grow tall, focus on giving them nutritious food that keeps them healthy at all times. When the child gets enough nutrition and adequate physical activity, they will grow into healthy adults with ideal weight and height.
2. Is height determined by genetics?; U.S. National Library of Medicine
3. Short stature; U.S. National Library of Medicine
4. 5 reasons to add eggs to the menu; University of Utah
5. S. Rozenberg et al., Effects of dairy products consumption on health; National Center for Biotechnology Information
6. Soy; U.S. National Library of Medicine
7. A. J. Lanou, Soy foods: Are they useful for optimal bone health?; National Center for Biotechnology Information
8. Macronutrients & Micronutrients; Pomana College
9. All about beans nutrition, health benefits, preparation and use in menus; North Dakota State University
10. Calcium: What’s best for your bones and health?; Harvard T.H. Chan
11. Hip fractures and leafy vegetables; Tufts University
12. How to eat nuts the healthy way; Harvard Medical School
13. Nature’s best seeds; Bastyr University
14. Osteoporosis facts & recipes; University of Illinois
15. Oranges; United States Department of Agriculture
16. Apricots; United States Department of Agriculture
17. Kiwifruit; United States Department of Agriculture
18. Pineapple; United States Department of Agriculture