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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.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables make up an important part of the well-balanced healthy diet. 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
A Balanced Diet for Adolescents
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
- to maximize their nutrient intake
Protein-rich foods include:
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 4. Not getting enough zinc can lead to growth retardation. Foods containing high amounts of zinc to help kids grow taller include
- crab legs
- Protein-rich foods include: * meat
* legumes These foods provide vitamin E, iron, zinc and magnesium.
Nutrition for Height Growth
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 2. 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 3. The study showed the women with lower vitamin D levels did not grow to their full height potential.
- 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.
A Balanced Diet for Adolescents
Nutrition for Height Growth
Is There a Vitamin That Encourages Height Growth?
The Average Weight and Height for a 12-Year-Old
Nutrition for Teen Girls
Eating Plan for a 15-Year-Old Girl
How to Get My 6-Year-Old to Lose Weight
Importance of Healthy Eating for Teens
Can Supplements Make You Grow Taller?
Folic Acid for Teens
- 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
- Holick MF, Gordon CM. Patient Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2011;96(7):1-2. doi:10.1210/jcem.96.7.zeg33a
- Sunyecz JA. The use of calcium and vitamin D in the management of osteoporosis. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2008;4(4):827-836. doi:10.2147/tcrm.s3552
- Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Hollis BW, Rimm EB. 25-hydroxyvitamin D and risk of myocardial infarction in men: a prospective study. Arch Intern Med. 2008;168(11):1174-1180. doi:10.1001/archinte.168.11.1174
- Gorham ED, Garland CF, Garland FC, et al. Optimal vitamin D status for colorectal cancer prevention: a quantitative meta analysis. Am J Prev Med. 2007;32(3):210-216. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2006.11.004
- Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, Recker RR, Heaney RP. Vitamin D and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;85(6):1586-1591. doi:10.1093/ajcn/85.6.1586
- Prentice RL, Pettinger MB, Jackson RD, et al. Health risks and benefits from calcium and vitamin D supplementation: Women’s Health Initiative clinical trial and cohort study. Osteoporos Int. 2013;24(2):567-580. doi:10.1007/s00198-012-2224-2
- Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, Kurihara M, Wada Y, Ida H. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(5):1255-1260. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.29094
- Salehpour A, Hosseinpanah F, Shidfar F, et al. A 12-week double-blind randomized clinical trial of vitamin D₃ supplementation on body fat mass in healthy overweight and obese women. Nutr J. 2012;11:78. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-11-78
- Carrillo AE, Flynn MG, Pinkston C, et al. Impact of vitamin D supplementation during a resistance training intervention on body composition, muscle function, and glucose tolerance in overweight and obese adults. Clin Nutr. 2013;32(3):375-381. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2012.08.014
- Marcinowska-Suchowierska E, Kupisz-Urbańska M, Łukaszkiewicz J, Płudowski P, Jones G. Vitamin D Toxicity-A Clinical Perspective. Front Endocrinol. 2018;9:550. doi:10.3389/fendo.2018.00550
- Ross AC, Manson JE, Abrams SA, et al. The 2011 report on dietary reference intakes for calcium and vitamin D from the Institute of Medicine: what clinicians need to know. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96(1):53-58. doi:10.1210/jc.2010-2704
- Bouillon R, Van Schoor NM, Gielen E, et al. Optimal vitamin D status: a critical analysis on the basis of evidence-based medicine. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013;98(8):E1283-E1304. doi:10.1210/jc.2013-1195
- American Academy of Dermatology. Position Statement of Vitamin D. 2010.
- Taksler GB, Cutler DM, Giovannucci E, Keating NL. Vitamin D deficiency in minority populations. Public Health Nutr. 2015;18(3):379-391. doi:10.1017/S1368980014000457
- Holick MF, Binkley NC, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, et al. Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011;96(7):1911-1930. doi:10.1210/jc.2011-0385
- Cannell JJ, Vieth R, Umhau JC, et al. Epidemic Influenza and Vitamin D. Epidemiol Infect. 2006; 134:1129-40.
- Carrillo AE1, Flynn MG, Pinkston C, Markofski MM, Jiang Y, Donkin SS, Teegarden D. Impact of Vitamin D Supplementation During a Resistance Training Intervention on Body Composition, Muscle Function, and Glucose Tolerance in Overweight and Obese Adults. Clin Nutr. 2013 Jun;32(3):375-81. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2012.08.014. Epub 2012 Aug 31.
- Ginde AA, Mansbach JM, Camargo CA, Jr. Association Between Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Level and Upper Respiratory Tract Infection in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Arch Intern Med. 2009; 169:384-90.
- Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Hollis BW, Rimm EB. 25-hydroxyvitamin D and Risk of Myocardial Infarction in Men: a Prospective Study. Arch Intern Med. 2008; 168:1174-80.
- Gorham ED, Garland CF, Garland FC, Grant WB, Mohr SB, Lipkin M, Newmark HL, Giovannucci E, Wei M, Holick MF. Optimal Vitamin D Status for Colorectal Cancer Prevention: a Quantitative Meta-analysis. Am J Prev Med. 2007 Mar;32(3):210-6.
- Heaney, Robert P. “The Vitamin D Requirement in Health and Disease.” The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry & Molecular Biology 97 (2005):13-9.
- Holick MF. Vitamin D. In: Shils M, Olson J, Shike M, Ross AC, ed. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 9th ed. Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1999.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin D: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet. University of Ottawa Evidence-based Practice Center. Effectiveness and Safety of Vitamin D in Relation to Bone Health. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Aug 2007: 07-E013.
- Salehpour A1, Hosseinpanah F, Shidfar F, Vafa M, Razaghi M, Dehghani S, Hoshiarrad A, Gohari M. A 12-week Double-blind Randomized Clinical Trial of Vitamin D₃ Supplementation on Body Fat Mass in Healthy Overweight and Obese Women. Nutr J. 2012 Sep 22;11:78. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-78.
- Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, Kurihara M, Wada Y, Ida H. Randomized Trial of Vitamin D Supplementation to Prevent Seasonal Influenza A in Schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 91:1255-60. Epub 2010 Mar 10.
- Wilkins, Consuelo H. and Yvette I. Sheline, et al. “Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated with Low Mood and Worse Cognitive Performance in Older Adults.” American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 14 (2006): 1032-40.
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.