Genes largely determine your height. You may get taller by eating a balanced diet, getting enough sleep, staying active, and having good posture, but there is no guarantee.
Several factors contribute to your overall height. It’s thought that genetic factors account for about 80% of your final height. Certain environmental factors, such as nutrition and exercise, typically account for the remaining percentage.
For girls, this growth spurt typically begins by the beginning of the teenage years. Boys may not experience this sudden increase in height until a couple years into their teens.
You generally stop growing taller after you go through puberty. This means that as an adult, you are unlikely to increase your height.
However, there are certain things that you can do throughout adolescence to ensure that you’re maximizing your potential for growth. You should continue these as an adult to promote overall well-being and retain your height.
Though height is mostly determined by your genetics, there are several steps you can take to appear taller and optimize your growth potential.
1. Eat a balanced diet
During your growing years, it’s crucial that you get all of the nutrients your body needs.
Your diet should include:
- fresh fruits
- fresh vegetables
- whole grains
You should limit or avoid foods containing high amounts of:
- trans fats
- saturated fats
If an underlying medical condition, or older age, is causing your height to decrease by affecting your bone density, consider increasing your calcium intake. It’s often recommended that women over age 50 and men over age 70 should consume 1,200 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day.
Vitamin D also promotes bone health. Common sources of vitamin D include tuna, salmon, fortified milk, and egg yolks. If you aren’t getting enough vitamin D in your diet, talk to a doctor about taking a supplement to meet your daily needs.
Learn more: Balanced diet »
2. Use supplements with caution
There are only a few cases where supplements may be appropriate to increase height in children and combat shrinking in older adults.
For example, if you have a condition that affects your human growth hormone (HGH) production, a doctor may recommend a supplement containing synthetic HGH.
Additionally, older adults may be advised to take vitamin D or calcium supplements to reduce their risk of osteoporosis.
In all other cases, you should avoid supplements with promises about height. Once your growth plates become fused together, there’s no chance that you can increase your height, regardless of what the supplement label advertises.
3. Get the right amount of sleep
Occasionally skimping on sleep won’t affect your height in the long term. But if during adolescence you regularly clock less than the recommended amount, it may lead to complications.
This is because your body releases HGH while you sleep. Production of this hormone and others may go down if you aren’t getting enough shut-eye.
Here is how much sleep is recommended for various age groups:
- Newborns up to 3 months old: 14-17 hours
- Infants 4-12 months old: 12-16 hours
- Toddlers ages 1-2 years: 11-14 hours
- Young children ages 3-5 years old: 10-13 hours
- Children ages 6-13: 9-12 hours
- Teenagers ages 14-17: 8-10 hours
- Adults ages 18-64: 7-9 hours
- Older adults over age 65: 7-8 hours
Getting extra sleep may even increase HGH production, so go ahead and take that power nap.
4. Stay active
Regular exercise has many benefits. It strengthens your muscles and bones, helps you maintain a moderate weight, and promotes HGH production.
Children in school should get at least 1 hour of exercise a day. During this time, they should focus on:
- strength-building exercises, such as pushups or situps
- flexibility exercises, such as yoga
- aerobic activities, such as playing tag, jumping rope, or biking
Exercising as an adult has its benefits, too. In addition to helping you maintain your overall health, it can also help reduce your risk of osteoporosis. This condition occurs when your bones become weak or brittle, resulting in bone density loss. This can cause you to “shrink.”
To reduce your risk, try walking, playing tennis, or practicing yoga several times a week.
5. Practice good posture
Poor posture may make you look shorter than you actually are. And over time, slumping or slouching can also affect your actual height.
Your back should curve naturally in three places. If you regularly slump or slouch, these curves may shift to accommodate your new posture. This can cause pain in your neck and back.
Being mindful of how you stand, sit, and sleep is key. Talk to a doctor about how you can incorporate ergonomics into your daily routine. Depending on your needs, a standing desk or memory foam pillow may be all that’s needed to correct your posture.
You can also practice exercises designed to improve your posture over time. If you’re unsure of where to begin, talk to a doctor. They can help develop an exercise routine that’s right for you.
6. Use yoga to maximize your height
If targeted posture exercises aren’t your thing, give yoga a try. This whole-body practice can strengthen your muscles, align your body, and help with your posture. This will help you stand taller.
You can practice yoga in the comfort of your own home or in a group setting at your local gym or studio. If you aren’t sure where to start, search for a yoga routine on YouTube or try some poses for beginners.
Some popular poses to improve posture include:
- Mountain Pose
- Cobra Pose
- Child’s Pose
- Warrior II Pose
Shop for yoga mats.