Can We Increase Our Height? Genetics of Height

height-genetics

Ever wondered about the secrets behind how to increase height? Many of us do, especially when we are standing in front of a mirror or amongst the taller pears. Questions like ‘Does height come from mom or dad?’ or ‘How can we become taller?’ are quite common.

In this article, we’re going to explore the fascinating world of height genetics, revealing the truth behind height genes and the factors that determine how we grow taller.

Whether you’re curious about how to grow taller naturally or want to understand the genetics of height, you’ll find answers here.

We’ll also dive into different growth phases, and what you can do to potentially enhance your growth in height.

So, let’s find out how do we grow taller and what makes us the height we are!

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Quick Note:

If you’re looking for a brief answer: Height, like many traits, is influenced by a blend of genetics and environment. The genes we inherit play a crucial role, with over 700 genes identified as contributors to our height.

Approximately 60-80% of the difference in height among individuals can be attributed to genetic factors. This means that if your parents are tall or short, there’s a higher chance you’ll be similar in height.

However, environmental factors, including nutrition, lifestyle, and overall health, are also key players in determining how tall we grow. Good nutrition and health during childhood and adolescence are particularly important for achieving our full height potential.

For a deeper dive into the complexities of height genetics, growth phases, and strategies to potentially enhance growth or to look taller, keep reading the article.

How We Grow Tall?

From the time we’re born until we become adults, our bodies go through a lot of changes. This includes our organs like the heart and brain, and most noticeably, our bones, which help us grow in height.

You might wonder, “How do we grow taller?” Well, it mainly happens when our bones, especially in our legs and spine, get longer.

During our younger years, particularly in childhood and adolescence, we experience quick growth.

This is when our body produces special hormones that encourage our bones to grow.

There’s a part in our bones called growth plates that play a big role here. These plates are made of cartilage and gradually turn into bone as we grow older.

height tree

The way our skeleton grows follows a pattern:

  • Infancy (birth to 2 years): This is when we grow the fastest. Babies can grow about 10 inches in the first year and around 5 inches in the second year.
  • Childhood (2 years to puberty): Growth slows down a bit, and kids usually grow about 2-2.5 inches each year.
  • Adolescence (puberty to end of growth spurt): Here comes another rapid growth phase. Boys typically grow about 4 inches per year, and girls about 3 inches per year.
  • Adulthood: Once the growth spurt is over, our growth plates close, and we stop growing taller. Some bones, like those in our skull, might continue to change shape or size a bit.

Is Height Genetic?

Our DNA orchestrates most of our traits from hair color, and height to even susceptibility to diseases like Diabetes. Height is pretty complicated when it comes to genetics. Scientists have found more than 700 genes linked to height.

Each of these contributes a small bit to how tall we become. So, when you ask, “What genes determine height?” or “Is height hereditary?” the answer is yes, but it’s a mix of many different genes.

Family Patterns in Height

Studies to find out the genetics of height, like twin studies have established that about 60-80% of our height difference is due to the genes we inherit, meaning height genetics play a significant role.

But, “Does height come from mom or dad?” or “Which parent determines height?” It’s actually a combination of both, plus the environment.

We often look at our parents and try to guess how tall we’ll be. A common way to predict a child’s height is to average the height of their parents.

For boys, add 2.5 inches to this average, and for girls, subtract 2.5 inches.

But, this is just an educated estimate and often, kids end up much taller or shorter than their parents or siblings due to the unique mix of genes and environmental factors they get.

height genetics tree

Ethnicity and Height

Different ethnic groups tend to have different average heights. This is partly because of genetics that influence our bone structure and how our body responds to growth hormones.

However, ethnicity isn’t a surefire way to predict height, as there’s a lot of variation within and across groups. It’s better to consider a person’s specific genetic makeup and the environment they grow up in.

So, while genetics play a big role in determining our height, it’s not the only factor.

Questions like “How to increase height?” or “How to grow taller?” involve understanding both our genetic potential and our lifestyle and environment as growth in height is a complex process influenced by many different factors!

Here is our video about height genetics if you prefer to watch it.

How Much Does Nutrition Affects Height

What you eat plays a big part in how tall you can become. Your diet can either help you grow to your tallest possible height or hold you back.

Your body needs the right food to help build your bones, muscles, and tissues.

This is especially true for your bones, which help you grow taller.

Eating well also keeps your growth hormones, like IGF-1 and human growth hormone (HGH), working well.

Studies show that better nutrition can help kids and teens who aren’t eating well grow taller.

better nutrition for height

But, eating well won’t make you taller than what your genes have decided, though it can help you maximize your height potential.

After you become an adult, your bones stop growing. So, good nutrition mainly helps you grow during your childhood and teen years.

The Best Nutrients for Growing Taller

There are several important nutrients that help you grow taller:

  • Protein: This is what your muscles and tissues are made of. Protein also helps produce IGF-1, a hormone that encourages growth. Good sources of protein include beans, chicken, eggs, dairy products, nuts, and soy.
  • Calcium: This mineral makes your bones and teeth strong. It also helps prevent weak and brittle bones when you get older. You can get calcium from milk, cheese, yogurt, almonds, and leafy greens.
  • Vitamin D: This vitamin helps your body use calcium and phosphorus, which are important for strong bones. Vitamin D also helps your cells and tissues grow. You can get vitamin D from the sun, fish, eggs, and fortified foods.
  • Zinc: Zinc helps your growth hormones and enzymes work right. It also keeps your immune system strong and helps heal wounds. Zinc can be found in meat, seafood, pumpkin seeds, and lentils.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium helps your body use calcium and vitamin D for bone growth. It also relaxes your muscles and nerves and helps with energy. Bananas, spinach, avocado, and dark chocolate are good sources of magnesium.

Effects of Malnutrition on Growth

Malnutrition is when you don’t get the right amount or type of nutrients. Not eating well can really affect how much you grow, especially when you’re young.

Here are some ways malnutrition can affect your growth:

  • Stunting: This means you’re shorter than most people your age. It can happen if you don’t eat well for a long time, get sick often, or have health problems that affect your stomach. Stunting can affect your body and brain development, and it can make you more likely to get sick when you’re older.
  • Wasting: This is when you’re lighter than you should be for your height. It can happen if you don’t eat enough, get sick a lot, or have health issues that affect your hunger or how you use food. Wasting can make your immune system weak and make you get sick easier.
  • Not Getting Enough Vitamins and Minerals: This can hurt your growth and development. For example, not getting enough iron, vitamin A, or iodine can be bad for your bones, immune system, brain, and hormones.

What you eat is a big deal when it comes to how tall you can grow. Good nutrition helps you reach your full height potential, but it only works when you’re still growing, like when you’re a kid or teenager.

So, if you’re thinking about how to grow taller, or wondering about the genetics of height, eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the major pieces of the puzzle. So, while we can’t change our height genes, we can make sure we eat right to reach our height potential.

Whether you’re thinking about what determines height, or how do we grow taller, eating well is a big part of the answer.

How Hormones Affect Your Height

Hormones are like little messengers in your body, and they play a huge part in how tall you grow.

One of the main hormones for height is the growth hormone (GH), made by the pituitary gland. GH is super important for making your bones, muscles, and organs grow.

GH works with another hormone called IGF-1, made by your liver, to help your whole body grow.

The amount of GH and IGF-1 you have can change based on things like your age, whether you’re a boy or a girl, what you eat, how much you exercise, how stressed you are, and how well you sleep.

Usually, kids and teenagers have more of these hormones because that’s when they’re growing a lot. But once you’re an adult and you’ve stopped growing, you have less of these hormones.

Puberty and Growth Spurts

Puberty is when your body starts to change and you begin to look more like an adult.

It starts because of hormones released by a part of your brain called the hypothalamus.

These hormones tell your pituitary gland to make other hormones (LH and FSH) that wake up your ovaries or testes to start making estrogen (in girls) or testosterone (in boys).

These sex hormones do a lot more than just help you look more grown-up. They also help you grow taller by working with GH and IGF-1.

Estrogen and testosterone help make more IGF-1, which makes your bones and muscles grow. But they also eventually cause the growth plates in your bones to close, which means you stop growing taller.

During puberty, you have a big growth spurt. This means you grow a lot taller in a short time.

Hormone Problems That Can Affect Your Height

Sometimes, if your hormones aren’t working right, it can change how tall you grow. Here are a few hormone problems that can affect your height:

  • Growth Hormone Deficiency: This means your pituitary gland isn’t making enough GH. It can make you grow slower and be shorter than other people your age. You can treat this with GH injections to help you grow more.
  • Too Much Growth Hormone (Gigantism or Acromegaly): If your pituitary gland makes too much GH, it can cause you to grow really big, especially your hands, feet, and face. If this happens before your growth plates close, it’s called gigantism and can make you very tall. If it happens after you’ve stopped growing, it’s called acromegaly.
  • Not Enough Thyroid Hormone (Hypothyroidism): Your thyroid gland makes hormones that help control your growth. If it doesn’t make enough, it can slow down your growth and delay puberty. You can treat this with thyroid hormone pills.
  • Cushing’s Disease: This is when you have too much of a hormone called cortisol. It can stop your GH from working right and make your bones and muscles weaker. It can be treated with medicine, surgery, or radiation.

These are just a few of the hormone problems that can affect how tall you grow. If you think you or your child might have a hormone problem, it’s important to talk to a doctor to get checked out and treated if needed.

How Lifestyle and Environmental Factors Affect Your Height

When it comes to how tall you can grow, it’s not just about height genes as 20-40 % of it is not covered by heredity. There’s more to it, including the lifestyle you lead and where you live. Let’s look at how different things might play a part in your height.

Exercise and Height

Believe it or not, one of the best ways to help you reach your maximum height potential is through exercise.

Regular exercise does wonders for your muscles, helps you stand taller, and even triggers the release of growth hormones. These hormones are vital for making your bones and tissues grow.

To increase height, certain exercises are great, like stretching.

Think of activities like hanging from a bar, doing the cobra yoga pose, or the bridge pose.

exercise and height

These can make your spine longer and increase your flexibility. Aerobic exercises like swimming, biking, running, and jumping rope are also fantastic. They get your blood pumping and increase oxygen flow, which is great for growth.

Sleep’s Impact on Growth

Good sleep is crucial for growing taller. It’s during deep sleep that your body repairs itself and produces most of the growth hormones.

If you don’t get enough sleep or if your sleep is often interrupted, you might not produce enough of these hormones, which can slow down your growth.

Children and teens need around 9-11 hours of sleep each night, while adults need about 7-9 hours.

To help you sleep better, try to keep a regular sleep schedule, avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed, limit screen time before sleeping, and make sure your sleeping space is dark and comfortable.

Chronic Illnesses and Medications

Long-term health problems and certain medicines can also affect how tall you grow.

Chronic illnesses like diabetes, asthma, and arthritis can interfere with how your body grows by affecting things like your nutrition, metabolism, and hormone levels.

For example, diabetes can make it harder for your body to use insulin, which is important for growth. Asthma can make it hard to get enough oxygen, which your tissues need to grow and repair. And autoimmune diseases can attack your own body, which might harm your growth plates and hormone glands.

Some medicines used to treat these illnesses can also affect your height. Steroids, for instance, can mess with your growth hormones and bones. Chemotherapy can damage your growth plates, and medicines for epilepsy can affect how your body uses calcium and vitamin D, which are crucial for bone growth.

So, if you have a chronic illness or are taking medication, it’s important to see your doctor regularly.

They might give you treatments like growth hormone therapy to help you reach your best height.

different factors for height

So, when you’re thinking about how to grow taller or how to increase height, it’s not just about height genetics or whether height is hereditary. Your daily habits, like exercising, getting good sleep, and dealing with health issues and medications, are all part of the story.

So, if you’re wondering “How can we become taller?” or “What determines height?”, these lifestyle and environmental factors are key pieces of the puzzle that you can have some say in, unlike genetics.

How Taller Does the Average Person Get?

Ever wondered how tall you’ll get as you grow older? We grow a lot when we’re babies, then a bit slower as kids, and then have a big growth spurt during puberty. After puberty, we pretty much stop growing taller.

Let’s look at a table that shows how tall boys and girls are on average at different ages, using data from the US CDC.

AgeMale Height (cm)Female Height (cm)
049.8 (± 1.9)49.2 (± 1.8)
175.7 (± 2.1)74.1 (± 2.0)
286.4 (± 2.4)85.5 (± 2.4)
394.9 (± 2.9)94.0 (± 2.9)
4102.9 (± 3.4)101.6 (± 3.5)
5109.9 (± 3.9)108.4 (± 4.0)
6116.1 (± 4.4)114.6 (± 4.5)
7121.7 (± 4.9)120.3 (± 5.1)
8128.2 (± 5.5)127.0 (± 5.7)
9133.3 (± 6.1)132.9 (± 6.3)
10138.4 (± 6.8)138.4 (± 6.9)
11144.0 (± 7.4)144.0 (± 7.5)
12149.8 (± 8.0)149.8 (± 8.1)
13156.7 (± 8.6)156.7 (± 8.7)
14163.8 (± 9.1)158.7 (± 8.7)
15169.6 (± 9.5)159.7 (± 8.7)
16173.4 (± 9.7)160.0 (± 8.6)
17175.7 (± 9.8)160.1 (± 8.6)
18176.5 (± 9.8)160.3 (± 8.6)
19177.0 (± 9.8)160.4 (± 8.6)
20177.1 (± 9.8)160.5 (± 8.6)
Average age of male and females during different ages

Height Differences Between Boys and Girls

From this table, we see that both boys and girls grow more or less the same way until they hit puberty.

Then, things change a bit. Girls often start their growth spurt before boys, so they might be taller for a while in their early teens. But then boys catch up and usually end up taller in their late teens.

The difference in height between adult men and women is usually around 6.5 inches, with men being taller.

Height Around the World

People’s average height changes from country to country. This depends on their genes, what they eat, their lifestyle, and how good their healthcare is.

For example, people in the Netherlands, Montenegro, and Denmark are among the tallest, with men averaging over 5 feet 11 inches, and women over 5 feet 5 inches.

Meanwhile, in places like Timor-Leste, Guatemala, and Laos, men are generally under 5 feet 3 inches, and women under 4 feet 11 inches.

height in different populations

The study also found that over the last 100 years, people have gotten about 4 inches taller on average. But this growth has slowed down or even stopped in some countries.

This tells us that not everyone has the same chance to reach their full height, because of differences in health and nutrition.

Is It Possible to Get Taller After You’re All Grown Up?

A lot of people wonder, “Can I get taller after I’m grown up?” The simple answer is NO, as our growth plates fuse after puberty there is no scope for growth naturally, unless in some very rare cases. However, even after bones stop growing, you can still work on your posture or build muscles to look taller.

Let’s bust some myths and look at the truth about getting taller, and explore ways you might be able to reach your tallest potential.

Myths vs. Facts: What Really Affects Your Height

There are a lot of tall tales (pun intended!) about how to grow taller. Let’s separate the myths from the facts:

  • Myth: “Pills and supplements can make you grow taller.”
    • Fact: Nope, there’s no magic pill for getting taller. The best way to support your growth is with a healthy diet full of fruits, veggies, proteins, and dairy and that’s also during your growth phase.
  • Myth: “Lifting weights stunts your growth.”
    • Fact: This isn’t true. Weightlifting, done right, won’t affect your height. It’s actually good for your muscles and bones. Just don’t overdo it and do it in right form, and get advice from a doctor or trainer if you’re new to it.
  • Myth: “Drinking milk makes you taller.”
    • Fact: Milk is great for bones because of the calcium and vitamin D, but it’s not a height booster by itself. You need a balanced diet for overall growth.

How to Maximize Your Height Potential

You can’t change your DNA, but there are things you can do during your growing years to make sure you reach your full height potential:

  • Get Enough Sleep: Sleep is crucial because that’s when your body releases growth hormones. Aim for at least 8 hours of good sleep every night.
  • Stay Active: Exercises, especially things like swimming, biking, and stretching, can help boost your growth hormone levels.
  • Good Posture Matters: Standing and sitting straight can make a big difference in how tall you appear. Work on keeping your back straight and shoulders back.
  • Dress Smart: Your clothes can affect how tall you look. Go for outfits with vertical lines or monochromatic colors to create an illusion of height. Shoes with thicker soles can add a few inches too.

Medical Ways to Increase Height: The Risks and Options

If you’re really set on increasing your height, there are medical options, but they come with big risks and costs:

  • Growth Hormone Therapy: This is a treatment that involves injecting synthetic growth hormone into your body, to stimulate your growth plates and increase your bone length. This therapy is usually prescribed for children who have growth hormone deficiency or other conditions that affect their growth. However, some adults may also seek this therapy for cosmetic reasons, even though it is not approved by the FDA for this purpose. The risks of growth hormone therapy include fluid retention, muscle pain, joint pain, nerve damage, diabetes, heart problems, and cancer.
  • Limb Lengthening Surgery: This is a surgical procedure that involves breaking your leg bones and inserting metal rods or wires to gradually stretch them. This procedure can increase your height by up to 6 inches, depending on your bone quality and healing capacity. However, this procedure is very invasive, complex, and painful, and it can take up to a year or more to complete. The risks of limb lengthening surgery include infection, bleeding, nerve damage, muscle damage, bone deformity, and psychological distress.

Your height is part of who you are, shaped by your genes, your diet, and your overall health. While you can’t drastically change your height, you can make the most of what you’ve got by living healthily and taking care of your body.

different height people

Learn To Accept Your Height

Being taller or shorter can affect how people see themselves. Research says taller people often feel more confident and may have more opportunities. But, shorter people can sometimes face unfair treatment or jokes about their height. This can lead to feeling down or not good enough.

Without accepting your height, you’ll find yourself expending valuable time and energy fixating on something that cannot be changed, rather than channeling these resources into numerous other aspects that contribute to your unique personality. Keep in mind that height is just one facet of who you are, and it’s the diverse qualities you possess that truly define you.

As now we know, height is a complex trait that is influenced by many factors, such as genetics, nutrition, hormones, and environment.

While you cannot change some of these factors, you can still optimize your height potential by following a healthy lifestyle, such as eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, staying active, and maintaining good posture.

Just do the things that are in your hand and instead of worrying about how to grow taller, focus on feeling good about yourself and making the most of your appearance. By doing this, you can boost your happiness, mental health, and confidence.

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