Humans come in a variety of heights — and genetics play a key role in determining whether you will be short or tall.
There’s much more than just heredity to consider before assuming a person will automatically be the same height as their parents. Medical conditions, hormonal deficiencies, and more can all contribute to how tall you are.
Read on to learn about all of the components that contribute to a person’s natural height.
Genetics are among the prominent factors that contribute to how tall you’ll be.
As a general rule of thumb, your height can be predicted based on how tall your parents are. If they are tall or short, then your own height is said to end up somewhere based on the average heights between your two parents.
Genes aren’t the sole predictor of a person’s height. In some instances, a child might be much taller than their parents and other relatives. Or, perhaps, they may be much shorter.
Such key differences may be explained by other factors outside of your genes that contribute to height.
Aside from genetics, there are other factors to consider that can determine a person’s height, especially during childhood and adolescence.
While eating more vegetables won’t automatically make you taller, getting adequate nutrition during your growing years is critical in human development, including your height.
A diet based on whole, nutritious foods can ensure you will grow up to the height your genes might dictate. On the flip side, a poor diet could lead to a shorter stature compared to your parents.
Access to healthy foods
Eating healthy isn’t so simple for all families. Children of a poor socioeconomic status may be at risk of a lack of access to nutrition, along with poor access to adequate health care. This, in turn, can contribute to a shorter height.
You may notice that boys grow slower than girls at first, due to differences in puberty milestones. Overall though, adult males tend to be an average of 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) taller compared to adult females.
During puberty, hormones are essential for regulating body growth. These include thyroid hormones, human growth hormones, and sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen.
Any abnormalities in these hormones could alter growth as well as your overall height. Children who develop hypothyroidism (low thyroid) or pituitary gland disorders may experience shorter than average height compared to their parents.
Rarely, hormonal disorders can contribute to being taller than normal. For example, gigantism is caused by too many human growth hormones produced by pituitary gland tumors.
Some conditions present at birth may dictate a person’s height. For example, achondroplasia (dwarfism) is a rare bone growth disorder that runs in families.
Another congenital disorder that can cause short stature is known as Turner syndrome. This rare condition causes delays in puberty. Unlike achondroplasia, Turner syndrome doesn’t run in families.
Other congenital disorders lead to a taller than normal stature. These include Marfan and Klinefelter syndromes.
Overall, there’s no way you can increase your height. Each person is born with genes that will help dictate how tall they become, but other factors such as inadequate nutrition or medical conditions may alter this outlook.
Hormonal conditions may be the few exceptions. If a lack of thyroid or human growth hormones is detected during childhood, then taking medications may help reverse the effects on height.
However, once you reach adulthood, taking hormonal replacements won’t make you taller. At this point, your full height has already been achieved, and taking any medications or supplements won’t make a difference.
It’s important to focus on good nutrition during childhood, but sticking with these habits will also contribute to your overall health into adulthood and beyond — regardless of your height.
Poor posture and lack of exercise can also contribute to poor stature, so correcting these items may help increase your height (or the appearance of it).
It’s widely regarded that your genes will dictate how tall you become. However, there are other exceptions to this rule, including your gender, access to nutrition, and any underlying medical or congenital conditions you may have.
See a doctor if you have any concerns about your height, or if you have a child who isn’t reaching their growth milestones. They can discuss nutritional issues with you, and they may help rule out the possibility of any hormonal issues.