Taller kid is always considered a healthier kid! Why not? Height is important signal of body health and growth. Parents take pride when their kid is taller than them. Our parents wanted us to be taller and we expect our kids to grow tall and healthy.
No kid wants to be shortest in his class. It is much psychological feeling. When teacher shouts, “Stand in line, shortest to tallest!” no child want to groan if he is at shorter end. Being rejected a ride in amusement park for having short height is frustrating. Your kid poked by their friends for using a booster seat in a car is even more painful. For girls being taller or shorter is equally awkward. Especially for shorter girls they can’t stand this feeling with their friends growing up. Just like in animal group, largest of the animal is the alpha (superior) animal, we have same behavior. No kid wants to be shorter than his/her friend.
Parents want to do anything which makes their child grow taller. However it should be well understood that your child height is already set when you passed on your genes. Proper nutrition and food helps your kid reach the fullest potential height. But following your kids’ diet and keeping track of what he/she eats or what should be eaten is difficult. Our article shall give your some guidelines of what your kids’ diet should be to ensure they grow taller and list some best foods to make your kid grow taller.
When does height gain happen?
It is also interesting to know how human body grows since childhood. We grew fastest when we were a baby. We grow about 10 inches in first few years. Thereafter growth in height is about 1-2 inch each year. Next growth in height starts at puberty when body hormones start their activity. Puberty starts at age of 8 till 15yrs. Girls reach puberty earlier. Hence at that age, you might find girls taller than same aged boys. However growth in girl’s height reaches peak earlier. At end of puberty which is at late teens, they reach their maximum height. There is marginal height gain thereafter.
What is height gain?
Height gain in our body is mainly increase in our skeletal length. This is characterized by longitudinal growth in our bones. Thus is right to say that height gain is nothing but growth in our bones. Bones require various nutrients for its growth especially calcium. Various nutrients required for height growth of your kid are discussed below:
Bone is made up of Calcium
All know our bones are made up of calcium and other minerals. Hence when it comes to height of your kid, focus should be on your kids calcium intake in diet. Calcium plays important role in skeletal development. Hence during childhood when the bones have longitudinal growth, requirement of calcium is the largest. Calcium intake during the growth phase impacts the peak bone mass- highest level of bone mass body can attain. This peak bone mass occur at the age of around 18 years. Puberty (around 11-14 yrs) is the age when growth in bone length is the highest. On average bone accumulates around 150 grams of calcium each year during age 8 yrs to 18 years. Milk is the first food which comes to mind when we talk about calcium rich food.
Phosphorus – building blocks of bones
Phosphorus contributes to 50% of bone mineral by weight and is important mineral. This mineral is generally available in large quantity in our diet, however calcium to phosphate ratio has to be maintained in body. A study has found that carbonated beverages displace this vital mineral from our body, when consumption of carbonated beverages is detrimental to your kid health.
Magnesium – supports calcium in bones
Magnesium is required to develop the bone scaffolding or bone crystal lattice made of potassium and calcium. Thus magnesium helps in giving our physical structure. About 50% of magnesium is stored in our body bones. Magnesium is also required to activate Vitamin D which then further plays role in calcium absorption. Magnesium is apparently present in our daily staple diet and its deficiency is rare unless malnourished.
Vitamin D – required for calcium absorption
Vitamin D is in simple words assistant of Calcium in bone health. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Our natural food are deficient in Vitamin D, often Vitamin D fortified food products like milk, yoghurt are available in market. Vitamin D is recognized as the sunshine vitamin as our skin can photosynthesize Vitamin D. About 5 to 30 minutes of early morning sunlight exposure provides your body required vitamin D.
Proteins play important role in our body development. They are building blocks of our body muscles. Research shows that dietary protein intake during childhood plays role in bone mass acquisition. They supply various amino acids which are required for healthy growth of our bones. Our skeleton is nothing without the muscles that operate them. Hence skeletal muscles too play important role in longitudinal development of bones or our height. A lean muscle body will tend to gain less height.
Collagen is structural protein of various connective tissues in body including our bones. It offers elasticity to our bones, especially to take care of shocks when they grow longer. Adequate intake of protein is therefore required for body growth and height.
Other trace elements – small but vital
Trace elements are required in small quantities but are essential for development of bones. These include minerals like iron, zinc, copper, manganese and flouride. Dietary Iron has a positive effect on bone density. It plays important role in bone formation and required for synthesis of collagen for connective tissue. Zinc is needed for adequate generation of bone cells and calcification. Copper deficiency can lead to bone abnormalities. It is essential component for several enzymes linked to bone formation. Manganese is required for synthesis of connecting tissue in cartilage and bone. Manganese deficiency could lead to abnormal skeletal development. Fluoride accumulates in new bone and results in net gain in bone mass
Natural foods to make your kid grow taller
Here is list of natural foods that will ensure your kids grow tall.
There shall be consensus over benefits of milk for bone growth and height. Other dairy products like cheese and yoghurt are also useful. Study shows that cow milk is superior to any other milk, as it provides various other nutrients.
Most children complain about taste of milk. You may wish to flavor the milk with almonds, pistachio, vanilla or other fruits. Fruit shakes are alternative for milk if you kid doesn’t want to take milk. Two to three servings of milk are good for kid growth. Replace all carbonated drinks with milk shakes. Milk apart from supplying calcium also provides whey protein which is absent in vegetarian diet. It helps in bone growth. Milk fortified with vitamin D is also good. Occasional ice cream is not bad when it can supply required calcium.
Soyabean products like soymilk, tofus are very much similar to milk when it comes to supply of calcium and protein. Consumption of soyabean in diet should be encouraged for increase in height.
Fish contains essential amino acids required for body development. It also provides omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which supports development of brain. Thus fish promotes all round development of kid. Soft boned fish like sardines, salmon are often good source of calcium too.
Green leafy vegetables
Popeye did a great job promoting consumption of spinach in diet. Spinach offers good supply of calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and other vitamins which play role in development of bones. Couple of servings of vegetables in a day should be encouraged to meet daily requirement of nutrients for height growth. Vegetables from cabbage family like broccoli, kale, mustard, turnip are good source of calcium.
Kids often love fruits. Make sure your child has couple of servings of different fruits each day. Fruits like banana, avocados are packed with magnesium and potassium. Dried figs or anjeer, dates, prickly pears, apricots, prunes, oranges, mulberries, kiwi and others offer good supply of calcium in diet.
Whole grains are good source of magnesium, especially the unpolished and unprocessed cereals offer vital minerals and vitamins required for body growth. Whole grains also supply carbohydrates which shall be primary source of energy for your kid. Whole grains are also rich in B vitamins and zinc which can help kid grow taller.
Seeds and nuts
Most foods in nuts and seed category are rich in minerals vital for bone growth. These may include coconut, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seed, almonds and cashew nuts which supply good amount of calcium and magnesium to body which promotes growth of bones. They offer several other nutrients which are essential for kid health and nutrition.
While nutrition is key factor to healthy height and weight for children, it should be always coupled with healthy habit of regular physical exercise. Studies have found that exercises during childhood are more helpful in increasing bone mass than body strength. It assists in calcium metabolism in body. Encourage your kid to engage in outdoor sports and exercise to increase height.Image Credits: Flickr - Patrick Hawks, Flickr - Jason Dunnivant