While you won’t grow taller than you’re genetically designed to, getting plenty of essential vitamins daily helps ensure you reach your full growth potential. Most girls achieve 95 percent of their growth potential around ages 15 and 16, while boys grow to about 95 percent of their adult height around age 17 or 18, according to Baylor College of Medicine.
Getting plenty of vitamin D doesn’t make you grow taller than you’re destined to, but vitamin D deficiency, even a mild one, can stunt growth in children. Kids can meet daily vitamin D requirements by being exposed to small amounts of sunlight and eating a variety of vitamin D-rich foods, such as milk, yogurt, fish and vitamin D-fortified orange juice and breakfast cereals. Many children’s multivitamin supplements also contain vitamin D.
Other Essential Vitamins
Any essential vitamin that is deficient in a child’s diet has the potential to negatively affect growth and development. Therefore, it’s important for kids to eat a well-balanced diet containing all essential vitamins. In addition to vitamin D, vitamins important for proper physical growth include vitamin C, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12, vitamin E, vitamin K, choline, biotin and pantothenic acid.
Other Nutrients Important for Growth
Deficiencies in minerals and macronutrients -- protein, carbohydrates and fat -- can also stunt growth in kids, as can getting too few calories. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute suggests kids ages 4 to 8 need 1,200 to 2,000 calories daily, while children ages 9 to 13 require 1,600 to 2,600 calories and teens ages 14 to 18 need 1,800 to 3,200 calories per day. For kids ages 4 and up, 45 to 65 percent of calories should be from carbs, 25 to 35 percent from fat and 10 to 30 percent from dietary protein. Essential minerals important to maximize growth include chromium, calcium, copper, iron, iodine, potassium, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and molybdenum.
Healthy Food Choices
Over the course of a day, choose a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy foods, healthy oils and lean meats and poultry to meet daily nutrient needs. Children consuming 2,000 calories per day need about 2.5 cups of veggies, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of low-fat dairy foods, 5.5 ounces of protein foods, 6 ounces of grains and 6 teaspoons of oils daily, suggests the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010.
- Baylor College of Medicine: Consumer News -- Facts and Answers
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Your Child and Vitamin D
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Vitamins
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Balance Food and Activity
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010