How tall a person become is decided by his genes, of course. But when a father and mother have the gene for small stature, they often worry about whether their kids will share this characteristic. What is the real answer? Let’s find out!
How to predict children’s height?
Most parents use a mid-parental tool to predict the height of their children. How to do it?
Boys = [father’s height in inches + (mother’s height in inches + 5 inches)]/2
Girls = [(father’s height in inches – 5 inches) + mother’s height in inches]/2
This calculator seeks to:
- Predict the height of a kid at 18 years old
- Find out the genetic potential for growth
- Plot height as a percentile chart to track the growth rate.
This calculator is reliable when the parents are both of average height. But if they are greatly different heights, the average height measurement loses its accuracy as the range of potential height for the children will be larger.
Is being tall genetic?
Most of our height (about 60-80%) is determined by our DNA and the variants within that sequence that we have inherited. But there is a bit of presumed about which genes affect height and what they do to affect height.
More than 700 gene variants have been found though many do not have such a clear influence on height. Some of them affect both directly and indirectly the growth plates. These plates are the long bones in arms and legs where new bone is created, extending the bones as children grow.
How about the remaining factors?
As mentioned above, those 700 genes only account for 60-80% of how tall or short you are. Meanwhile, the others that affect your height are external factors, like nutrition, activity levels, availability of healthcare, exposure to toxic substances, and even ethnicity.
But these differences are now mainly removed, especially from future generations since families move to countries with high incomes, better nutrition, and healthcare. Making sure your kids consume a nutritious and well-balanced diet allows them to receive the necessary nutrients they need to grow and develop better.
Can short parents have tall children?
The simple answer is yes. Short parents can have a tall kid, but predicting whether he is tall or short in the future is difficult.
As mentioned above, up to 700 genes are playing a role. And we have no idea if those genes get activated or not. Some genetic traits are dominant, happening in every generation. Meanwhile, other genetic expressions become recessive, nearly vanishing in offspring, and only reappear after generations.
Also, the nutrition and environment your children received while growing up are important as this plays a vital role in bringing forward the whole genetic potential of every kid.
How to beat genetics to grow taller?
It is obvious that genetic factor is not the only key in determining a person’s height, other environmental factors are. As long as your children have proper nutrition, exercise, and sleep, they can get taller than their parents. And the truth is that not all short parents have short kids.
Mothers can affect their kids’ height from the fetal stage. During pregnancy, a mother needs to consume nutritious foods, especially calcium. That is because this mineral is necessary for developing healthy and strong fetal bones, which serve as a basis for later height growth.
For infants, breastfeeding is attributed to an increase in height if they are fed breast milk alone for the first four months .
From age 2 to 12 years, taking well-balanced and healthy diets directly affect a person’s height. The researcher pointed out that each additional 100 calories in the diet was related to an increased height of 0.13 inches in boys and slightly less in girls .
Another important period for height gain in children is their growth spurts during puberty. During this time, your children need essential nutrients to improve their stature beyond the limit of genes. Calcium, vitamin D, zinc, magnesium, and potassium are essential nutrients to contribute to a person’s growth. Below are some essential foods that are great for your bone density, overall bone health, and height gain.
- Milk and dairy products are always the top choices as they contain every single nutrient the body needs, including protein, calcium, vitamin D, and more.
- Eggs are an excellent source of nutrients for kids’ growth and development, such as protein, vitamins, and phosphorous.
- Beans and other legumes are rich in protein, fiber, calcium, and magnesium and low in fat. They are high in antioxidants, which help prevent the effects of cell-hurting free radicals.
- Whole grains are full of calcium, B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, iron, and selenium. Especially, B vitamins aid in forming bones and developing cells.
- Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as calcium, phosphorus, iron, selenium, and essential vitamins.
- Fruits and veggies contain a variety of potent fiber, vitamins, and minerals vital for healthy growth.
Exercise also plays a vital role in your children’s growth and health because it makes them stronger and more agile. Playing sports supports the joints to become flexible and boosts the secretion of growth hormones, facilitating height growth efficiently. As parents, you should encourage and let your kids play sports for at least 30 minutes per day. These sports could be swimming, basketball, jogging, rope jumping, volleyball, etc.
It is proven that humans mainly grow taller during deep sleep as the growth hormone is released most during sleep. As we know, these hormones are helpful in developing the joints, thereby increasing the overall height. Make sure your children take at least 11-12 hours of sound sleep every night.
While parents may reckon that their short stature will end up in short children, this is not the case. The overpowering odds are that the children will get taller than their parents by a couple of inches, at least bringing them more towards average height.
To be clear, there are obvious steps that parents can take to ensure their kids receive the proper environment and nutrition for their growth and development.
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Mike Nikko is a blogger with over 15 years of experience. I will bring you the best product reviews and other useful life experiences, tips to increase height, tips to improve health… If you have any questions, feel free to ask Mike Nikko!