There is no diet to grow taller than you’re genetically designed to, but getting plenty of essential vitamins daily helps ensure you reach your full growth potential. For a healthy girl, the average growth spurt occurs at about 9 or 10 years of age, which is 2 years earlier than for boys. However, the amount of growth gain during this period is typically greater in boys.
Effects of Vitamin D Deficiency
A deficiency of Vitamin D has long been associated with rickets. But Vitamin D also plays an important role in the growth of children. A study, published in the Public Health Nutritional Journal, examined vitamin D in improving growth parameters in children in Ecuador. The findings showed that levels of Vitamin D was a predictor of stunting and that a deficiency in this vitamin was a significant risk factor for reduced growth rate in children. Boys were 1.6 times more likely to be stunted than girls.
Children 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. It may be a good idea to give your baby 400 IU of vitamin day daily while they are nursing or on formula. In northern cities that experience long winters, Golisano Children's Hospital suggests it may be necessary for children to take a vitamin D supplement. Talk to your health care provider to discuss what is best for your child.
Connection of Vitamins and Growth
It is important to ensure that your child is eating a well-balanced diet to prevent a deficiency in vitamins that could stunt growth or potentially have a negative affect on growth and bone development. In addition to vitamin D, for strong bones, minerals and vitamins important for proper physical growth include:
- Vitamin A to promote normal growth and development and for tissue and bone repair
- Vitamin B group for promoting bone and tooth formation
- Vitamin C for bones and tissue
Calcium to build strong bones as a child grows
Vitamin E for bone and muscle mass
- Phosphorus for overall bone health
Other Nutrients Important for Growth
Deficiencies in minerals, 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.
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.
Medicines to Increase the Height of Your Child
If you suspect your child has slow or flat growth, talk to your doctor to identify factors that may be causing this. A condition called Growth Hormone Deficiency (GHC) occurs when a child’s body doesn't produce adequate growth hormone. As a result, normal growth slows down. Treatments for this condition include injections of growth hormones over a number of years.
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Health Encyclopedia: Vitamin D
- The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes Tables and Application
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Balance Food and Activity
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
- NCBI: Performance Development in Adolescent Track and Field Athletes According to Age, Sex and Sport Discipline
- Public Health Nutrition: Vitamin D Status is Associated with Underweight and Stunting in Children Aged 6–36 Months Residing in the Ecuadorian Andes
- Golisano Children's Hospital: Pediatric Bone Health Program
- Health.gov: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020
- Canadian Pediatric Endocrinology Nurses: Is My Child Growing Normally?