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What you can and can’t control
Several factors contribute to your overall height. It’s thought that genetic factors account for 60 to 80 percent of your final height. Certain environmental factors, such as nutrition and exercise, typically account for the remaining percentage.
Between age 1 and puberty, most people gain about 2 inches in height each year. Once puberty hits, you may grow at a rate of 4 inches per year. However, everyone grows at a different pace.
For girls, this growth spurt typically begins early in the teenage years. Boys may not experience this sudden increase in height until the end of their teens.
You generally stop growing taller after you go through puberty. This means that as an adult, you are unlikely to increase your height.
However, there are certain things that you can do throughout adolescence to ensure that you’re maximizing your potential for growth. You should continue these as an adult to promote overall well-being and retain your height.
During your growing years, it’s crucial that you get all of the nutrients your body needs.
Your diet should include:
- fresh fruits
- fresh vegetables
- whole grains
You should limit or avoid foods containing:
- trans fats
- saturated fats
If an underlying medical condition, or older age, is causing your height to decrease by affecting your bone density, up your calcium intake. It’s often recommended that women over age 50 and men over age 70 should consume 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day.
Vitamin D also promotes bone health. Common sources of vitamin D include tuna, fortified milk, and egg yolks. If you aren’t getting enough vitamin D in your diet, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement to meet your recommended daily amount.
There are only a few cases where supplements may be appropriate to increase height in children and combat shrinking in older adults.
For example, if you have a condition that affects your human growth hormone (HGH) production, your doctor may recommend a supplement containing synthetic HGH.
Additionally, older adults may wish to take vitamin D or calcium supplements to reduce their risk of osteoporosis.
In all other cases, you should avoid supplements with promises about height. Once your growth plates become fused together, there’s no chance that you can increase your height, regardless of what the supplement label advertises.
Occasionally skimping on sleep won’t affect your height in the long term. But if during adolescence you regularly clock less than the recommended amount, it may lead to complications.
This is because your body releases HGH while you sleep. Production of this hormone and others may go down if you aren’t getting enough shut-eye.
It’s suggested that:
- newborns up to 3 months old get 14-17 hours of sleep each day
- infants ages 3-11 months old get 12-17 hours
- toddlers ages 1-2 years get 11-14 hours
- young children ages 3-5 years old get 10-13 hours
- children ages 6-13 get nine to 11 hours
- teenagers ages 14-17 get eight to 10 hours
- adults ages 18-64 get seven to nine hours
- older adults ages 65 and older get seven to eight hours
Getting extra sleep may even increase HGH production, so go ahead and take that power nap.
Regular exercise has many benefits. It strengthens your muscles and bones, helps you to maintain a healthy weight, and promotes HGH production.
Children in school should get at least an hour of exercise a day. During this time, they should focus on:
- strength-building exercises, such as pushups or situps
- flexibility exercises, such as yoga
- aerobic activities, such as playing tag, jumping rope, or biking
Exercising as an adult has its benefits, too. In addition to helping you maintain your overall health, it can also help reduce your risk of osteoporosis. This condition occurs when your bones become weak or brittle, resulting in bone density loss. This can cause you to “shrink.”
To reduce your risk, try walking, playing tennis, or practicing yoga several times a week.
Poor posture may make you look shorter than you actually are. And over time, slumping or slouching can also affect your actual height.
Your back should curve naturally in three places. If you regularly slump or slouch, these curves may shift to accommodate your new posture. This can cause pain in your neck and back.
Being mindful of how you stand, sit, and sleep is key. Talk to your doctor about how you can incorporate ergonomics into your daily routine. Depending on your needs, a standing desk or memory foam pillow may be all that’s needed to correct your posture.
You can also practice exercises designed to improve your posture over time. If you’re unsure of where to begin, talk to your doctor. They can help develop an exercise routine that’s right for you.
If targeted posture exercises aren’t your thing, give yoga a try. This whole-body practice can strengthen your muscles, align your body, and help with your posture. This will help you stand taller.
You can practice yoga in the comfort of your own home or in a group setting at your local gym or studio. If you aren’t sure where to start, search for a beginner yoga routine on YouTube.
Some popular poses to improve posture include:
In most cases, you reach your peak height by the time you’re done with puberty. Although there are things you can do to maintain this height during adulthood, your growing days are long behind you.