Genetics plays the most important role in determining a person's final height, according to the Nemours Foundation. But diet is important when it comes to normal growth. Children who eat a nutritious diet, including a variety of foods from each of the food groups, will be more likely to reach their full growth potential.
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Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables make up an important part of the well-balanced healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables provide fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate and potassium. Kids need to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to make sure they get enough vitamin A. Vitamin A is necessary for the growth and development of bones and soft tissue, according to the authors of "Krause's Food, Nutrition and Diet Therapy." Good fruits and vegetables high in vitamin A include carrots, broccoli, spinach, cantaloupe and apricots.
Starches and Grains
Starches and grains provide energy, fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, iron and selenium. Grains provide a large portion of calories for growing kids. Kids need calories to grow taller, especially during puberty when they are going through their growth spurt, according to Helpguide.org. Kids should choose more whole grains, such as whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole-grain pasta and popcorn, to maximize their nutrient intake.
Protein-rich foods include meat, poultry, seafood, nuts, seeds and legumes. These foods provide vitamin E, iron, zinc and magnesium. Zinc is an essential nutrient for growth and development in children and adolescents, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Not getting enough zinc can lead to growth retardation. Foods containing high amounts of zinc to help kids grow taller include oysters, crab legs, pork, beef, chickpeas and cashews.
Dairy foods include milk, yogurt, ice cream and cheese. These foods provide protein, calcium and vitamin D. Calcium and vitamin D play a significant role in helping kids grow taller. Calcium is needed for bone formation and is especially important during the pubescent growth spurt, according to Helpguide.org. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to poor height gain. A 2009 study published in the "Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism" investigated the effects of low vitamin D levels and final height in young women. The study showed the women with lower vitamin D levels did not grow to their full height potential.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- KidsHealth.org: Boys and Puberty
- Helpguide.org: Nutrition for Children and Teens
- "Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism"; Vitamin D Status and its Relationship to Body Fat, Final Height, and Peak Bone Mass in Young Women; R. Kremer; 2009
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium