Height is largely due to genetics. Once a person reaches adulthood and stops growing, eating certain foods will not make them taller. However, good nutrition during growth and development can help a person reach their full height.

This article will look at certain foods that may help support growth and development. It will also discuss some other factors that may play a role in healthy growth.

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When a person is growing, their bones continue to grow in length until the end of puberty. Bones have growth plates called epiphyses.

As a person reaches the end of puberty, these growth plates fuse together, and the person stops growing.

Some factors that influence how tall a person will be include:

  • Genetics: Genes largely determine how tall a person is. According to some research, genetics contribute about 80% to a person’s height.
  • Sex: One 2017 article notes that females typically stop growing by the time puberty ends. Males typically reach their final height at 18 years old.
  • Hormones: The body produces hormones that can affect a person’s growth.

Learn more about which factors influence a person’s height here.

Once a person reaches adulthood, they will not get any taller. However, good nutrition and overall health during growth and development in childhood and adolescence may play a part in how tall a person becomes.

Learn more about whether or not adults can grow any taller here.

Is it possible for children?

Aside from genetics, certain environmental factors can affect height. These include nutrition, exercise, sleep, and illness.

Eating a balanced diet plays an essential role in growth and development during childhood. In fact, according to one 2016 study, nutrition is the most important lifestyle factor that affects height.

Eggs contain many nutrients that are important in growth and development.

One large whole egg contains:

  • 24.1 milligrams (mg) of calcium
  • 6.24 grams (g) of protein
  • 1.24 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin D
  • 35.7 mcg of folate
  • 0.513 mcg of vitamin B12

According to some 2015 research, deficiencies in vitamin B12 and folate may lead to poor growth in children.

A 2017 study in Ecuador looked at the effects of eating eggs as a young child. Children aged 6–9 months consumed one egg per day for 6 months.

Compared with the control group, the group that ate eggs showed significant improvements in linear growth and a decrease in stunted growth.

Calcium is essential for growing bones and the development of the skeleton.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the recommended daily intakes of calcium for children and adolescents are as follows:

AgeRecommended daily intake in mg
0–6 months200 mg
7–12 months260 mg
1–3 years700 mg
4–8 years1,000 mg
9–18 years1,300 mg

Dairy is a rich source of calcium. A person can find calcium in the following dairy products:

Dairy productCalcium content
Part skimmed ricotta, 4 ounces (oz)335 mg
Plain, low fat yogurt, 6 oz310 mg
Low fat skim milk, 8 oz300 mg
Part skimmed mozzarella, 1 oz210 mg
Cheddar cheese, 1 oz205 mg

Non-dairy sources of calcium

These non-dairy foods provide the following amounts of calcium:

FoodCalcium content
Cooked collard greens, 1 cup266 mg
Cooked broccoli, 1 cup100 mg
Cooked kale, 1 cup179 mg
Cooked bok choi, 1 cup160 mg
One whole orange55 mg
Tofu, 85 g100 g

Products fortified with calcium, such as fortified cereals, are also good sources of this nutrient.

Vitamin E is an important vitamin for children.

According to one 2014 article, vitamin E deficiency can cause stunted growth in children.

Vitamin E deficiency is more common in children than adults due to the limited stores of the vitamin and the rapid rate at which children grow.

Almonds are high in vitamin E.

The Office of Dietary Supplements note that 1 oz of dry roasted almonds provides 6.8 mg of vitamin E, which is 45% of the recommended daily intake.

People can eat almonds raw, roasted, or as almond butter.

Learn more about the health benefits of almonds here.

Beans and legumes, or pulses, are excellent sources of nutrition. They include:

  • kidney beans
  • cannellini beans
  • navy beans
  • pinto beans
  • chickpeas
  • lentils

One 2016 article notes that a lack of dietary protein is an important factor in influencing a person’s height.

Legumes are a good source of protein. They also provide:

  • B vitamins
  • iron
  • copper
  • magnesium
  • zinc
  • phosphorous

Fish, such as tuna and salmon, provide vitamin D and calcium.

Vitamin D helps the body absorb more calcium, which aids the growth and development of the bones.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that vitamin D also helps prevent rickets, which is the softening of bones.

A person can consume the following fish as sources of vitamin D and calcium:

FishVitamin D contentCalcium content
Canned salmon, 100 g15 mcg220 mg
Canned mackerel, 100 g7.3 mcg241 mg
Canned sardines in oil, 100 g4.8 mcg382 mg

Vitamin C is an important component for bone health. Vitamin C helps produce collagen, which is important for bone strength and repair.

Many fruits are rich sources of vitamin C, including the following:

FruitVitamin C content
Orange, 154 g81.9 mg
Orange juice, 248 g83.3 mg
Grapefruit, 308 g96.1 mg
Grapefruit juice, 248 g94.2 mg
Kiwi, 75 g56 mg
Strawberry, 150 g88.2 mg
Cantaloupe melon, 156 g57.3 mg

One 2016 study reports on the benefits that berries provide to bone health. This may be due to their high nutrient content. Indeed, they contain phytochemicals and vitamins with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Berries may also help prevent osteopenia, which is a condition that causes the bones to become brittle due to a loss of bone mass.

Carotenoids from plant sources, such as yellow and orange vegetables, may help improve bone health, according to a 2013 study. The body converts carotenoids into vitamin A.

Sweet potatoes are a good source of vitamin A.

One whole sweet potato, baked in the skin, provides 1,403 mcg of vitamin A, which amounts to 156% of the recommended Daily Value.

According to one 2014 article, a lack of sleep can affect a child’s growth and development.

Some signs that a person is getting enough sleep include:

  • falling asleep within 15–30 minutes of getting into bed
  • waking up easily at a set time each morning
  • feeling awake and alert throughout the day

The amount of sleep a person needs depends on their age. The CDC suggest the following hours of sleep depending on a person’s age:

AgeHours of sleep
4–12 months12–16
1–2 years11–14
3–5 years10–13
6–12 years9–12
13–18 years8–10

Exercise is also an important factor in growth and development. Regular physical activity — such as climbing, running, and jumping — helps strengthen muscles and bones.

The CDC state that those aged 6–17 years should aim to get at least 1 hour of exercise every day.

Genetics play a large part in how tall a person is. Once a person reaches adulthood and stops growing, they will not become any taller, regardless of the food they eat.

For children and teenagers, however, nutrition plays an important part in making sure that they experience healthy growth and development. Getting enough sleep and exercise are also important factors.

As an adult, eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can help maintain good bone health.