Are there really foods that make you taller and foods that make you shorter? As you’re probably aware, genetics play a huge role in determining people’s heights. It’s estimated that about 80% of someone’s “adult maximum height” is determined by genes, which explains why tallness and shortness tend to run in families.
What about the other 20%? Aside from genetics, other factors that can play a role in someone’s height include diet and nutrition intake, especially during puberty and the teenage years when people grow most rapidly.
For example, foods that make you taller are thought to be those that contain high levels of protein, calcium, vitamin D and vitamin K (in addition to other essential macro- and micronutrients), which aid in bone and muscle health.
Which foods can help adults increase their height, and what drink makes you taller? Let’s find out all about foods that make you taller (and shorter) below.
Can Foods Make Someone Taller?
As one orthopedic surgeon explained to the Wall Street Journal, “With a good diet rich in vitamin D and calcium, most girls will grow from age 10 to 14 and be completely done by 16, while boys grow from 12 until about 16 or 18, with some, in rare circumstances, growing up until 20.”
This means that most young adults reach their maximum heights by the time they enter the third decade of their lives. Overall, it seems there is little adults can do to add inches to their height past the age of about 20, however there are dietary strategies that can help prevent bone loss and shrinking, especially among older adults.
The human body needs a number of macronutrients and micronutrients to first grow taller during the adolescent years and then to maintain max height once someone reaches his or her 60s/70s and beyond. Research shows that adults gradually lose about an inch of height by the time they reach their 70s, and women can lose up to two inches. Some then lose another inch of height after 80, so you can see why a healthy diet is so important for your bones.
Nutrients that seem most important for growth, bone health and maintaining your height include protein, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, B vitamins and vitamin C.
- Calcium is essential for bone growth, skeletal development and maintaining bone density. It both assists in growth in children and teens and helps with maintenance of optimal bone mass and prevention of osteoporosis in older adults. It must be replaced often to help keep bones strong.
- Vitamin D is important for the absorption of calcium and helps calcium work properly.
- Magnesium works with calcium and vitamin D to aid in bone health.
- Protein, including collagen protein, helps build cartilage, joints and other tissues that give the body structure. Studies show higher protein intake also aids in bone metabolism.
- B vitamins are needed for neutralizing acidic foods that can be harmful to the skeletal system when not balanced with alkaline foods.
- Vitamin C and other antioxidants work with collagen protein to help form and maintain healthy connective tissues, including joints, ligaments, muscles and bones.
Top 11 Foods that Make You Taller (and Why)
1. Milk and Dairy Products
Why does milk make you taller? Milk and dairy products like yogurt and cheese— whether made from cow’s, sheep’s or goat’s milk — are good sources of protein, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and B vitamins.
Dairy products like greek yogurt and cottage cheese are especially high in protein, containing about 15 to 20 grams per serving.
Another beneficial thing about drinking milk is that it’s hydrating. Consuming enough water and fluids can actually help cells absorb water, which assists in “pumping up” and strengthening cartilage, spinal discs and other tissues.
2. Oily Fish (Like Salmon and Sardines)
Not only are fish and seafood good sources of protein, but oily fish are also one of the richest sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to support developing bodies and aid in bone metabolism.
3. Leafy Greens
Greens such as collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, bok choy, kale and so on are among the top plant-based sources of minerals including calcium and magnesium, as well as vitamin C and other antioxidants. This means they can help promote bone density and ward off oxidative stress, which can increase symptoms tied to aging.
4. Broccoli and Other Cruciferous Veggies
Much like leafy greens, cruciferous veggies including broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts provide phytonutrients, vitamin C, vitamin K and more. Greens are considered one of the top vitamin K foods, and studies indicate that vitamin K helps increase bone mineral density in osteoporotic people and reduces bone fracture risk.
5. Eggs (Including the Yolk)
Eggs are chock-full of bone- and muscle-building vitamins and minerals, such as phosphorus, vitamin D, iron, B vitamins, protein, and carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin.
Phosphorus found in eggs works with calcium and vitamin D to assist in skeletal strength. Studies suggest that pairing eggs with calcium can help with nutrient absorption in a way that improves functions of muscles and bones.
6. Grass-Fed Beef
Grass-fed beef is very high in protein, which is made up of amino acids that are the “building blocks” of muscles and tissues. Beef is also high in minerals such as iron and B vitamins, plus vitamin K, which plays an important role in getting calcium into your bones instead of letting it stay in your bloodstream where it can contribute to vascular problems.
7. Collagen Protein Powder
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in the human body, helping give structure, strength and elasticity to joints, bones, ligaments and other tissues. It’s not widely available in food sources, other than primarily bone broth, but can be taken in powder form to boost your intake.
8. Liver and Organ Meats
Liver is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin A, which acts like an antioxidant and also preserves the calcium in your bones. Additionally, vitamin A supports the health of your skin and fights free radical damage that contributes to the aging process.
Other nutrients found in organ meats include protein, iron and B12.
Beans and other legumes are good sources of calcium and magnesium — plus they offer plant-based protein and even some anti-aging antioxidants.
Magnesium found in beans assists in many functions in the body, including contributing to bone health since it helps calcium to be absorbed and utilized.
10. Vitamin C Fruits (Berries, Kiwi, Oranges, etc.)
Certain fruits can be great sources of calcium — such as dried fruits like raisins, prunes, figs and apricots — while others are high in vitamin C, especially oranges, kiwi, berries, pineapples, papayas and grapefruit.
Vitamin C is essential to the formation of collagen in the body, which facilitates bone mineralization and keeps cartilage, joint and ligaments strong.
Studies suggest that diets rich in fruits such as berries (like strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries) can help prevent osteopenia due to their high phytochemical and vitamin content.
A number of studies have found that adults who regularly consume tea, such as green and black tea, tend to have stronger bones and a lower risk of osteoporosis during older age compared to those who don’t drink tea. Tea is high in antioxidants and may defend against oxidative stress that can damage tissues throughout the body.
Other Ways to Encourage Growth
Eating the”foods that make you taller” mentioned above won’t necessarily work quickly or make a huge difference in terms of your height. As such, you might be wondering, “How can I get taller fast?”
As explained above, you’re not going to grow much after your 20s, but you can still work on improving your posture and keeping your bones strong.
Here’s what science tells us about how to get taller (or at least to appear taller):
- Regularly stretching and doing yoga can both improve posture and may also increase the appearance of your height by elongating your spine.
- Other suggestions for maintaining good posture include visiting a chiropractor, building strength in your back and pelvis, and trying therapies like Rolfing.
- Research suggests that maintaining higher levels of human growth hormone as you age can help you keep your muscles and bones strong. You release more growth hormone when you do intense endurance exercise, especially those that require lifting heavy loads and are high in intensity, duration and frequency.
- Take care of your liver, since healthy liver function helps you maintain normal levels of hormones that fight effects of aging on your body frame. This means eating a healthy diet and avoiding smoking and high alcohol intake.
- Try fasting, which can naturally induce a boost in the secretion of growth hormone.
- Get enough sleep. When you sleep your body regenerates and grows back stronger, meaning overnight is where you see the results of hard work including exercise.
- How can I increase my height by eating certain foods? Foods that make you taller are rich in nutrients, including protein, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin C.
- Does milk make you taller? It’s one of the best sources of many essential nutrients plus protein, so it’s recommended to help with growth and development in children and teens, making it one of the top foods that make you taller.
- Other foods that may help you maintain healthy bones, joint and tissues include — aka foods that make you taller — include collagen, eggs, beef, leafy greens, fish like salmon and sardines, fruits like berries and kiwi, beans, and liver.