Is milk the only answer to growing bones?

“Drink milk and you’ll grow taller and stronger” is such a familiar statement in many households. You might have heard it throughout your childhood and ended up telling your own kids the same thing in your adult years. But is there any grain of truth in this whole “milk makes you taller” thing or it’s just intuitive thinking? We all know drinking milk can help us build strong muscles and bones. That is because milk is naturally high in protein, a nutrient that contributes to muscle growth, and calcium, which promotes bone density. But is there any scientifically proven link between drinking milk and height?

Height is controlled by various factors

Your parents might not be entirely wrong when they urged you to drink milk when you were little. This very hypothesis has been studied by scientists and dietitians over the years. There are actually several published studies proving that drinking milk is associated with very small increases in height in children. However, it should be noted that these studies do not show a cause and effect relationship but a correlation. A positive association doesn’t mean that there’s proof milk can increase your height.

So which variables control your height? Genetics is a big part of it; most of the variations in height are due to whatever your genes determine. The other factors include nutrition, exercise, sleep, and living environment. Although milk is a very nutritious food that is rich in protein, calories, minerals, and vitamins, it alone is not sufficient for bone growth and overall body development. Indeed, milk is a valuable contribution to children’s nutrition, but drinking milk alone will yield little to no result when it comes to height growth without a healthy lifestyle and a well-balanced diet.

Why does a well-balanced diet matter?

A balanced diet will influence how tall you’ll become much more powerfully than some glasses of milk. In fact, your height growth process requires a variety of bone-nourishing nutrients that are lacking in your daily intake of milk. They are present in the major food groups such as vegetables, fruits, grains, and protein foods.

Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables are top sources of calcium, vitamin K, and other essential nutrients. One of the most height boosting vegetables is bok choy. Spinach is also rich in iron, and along with cabbage and kale, it provides your body with potassium, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin C, which helps increase height exponentially.

The berry varieties

The berry varieties (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, etc.) are filled with essential nutrients for height growth. They are amazing sources of antioxidants, vitamin C, and phytochemicals that help to promote cell growth, protect healthy cells from damage, boost your immune system, and repair tissues. Berries are also instrumental in the synthesis of collagen, which is responsible for bone health and bone density, thereby helping you grow taller.


Grains, including whole grains, are the main source of energy for your body. Whole grains are abundant in minerals and vitamins, namely magnesium, vitamin B, and zinc, all of which are crucial for bone growth and mineralization to increase height. They also provide the required calories for children’s and teenagers’ growing bodies to grow taller.

Protein foods

Topping the protein food group to increase height is chicken. Rich in proteins and other important nutrients in increasing and maintaining your height, chicken also builds up your body mass, tissues, and muscles. Besides, it is packed with taurine, an amino acid that positively affects bone formation and bone growth. Eggs are another cheap and easily available food crucial for height growth. An egg contains around 6 grams of protein and many essential amino acids benefiting your body. It strongly supports skeletal development, cell growth, and overall development of the body.

If you are serious about adding inches to your height, your diet should include most of these foods. A healthy and well-balanced diet may do wonders for not only your height growth but also your overall well-being, something a simple glass of milk obviously can’t. Please don’t take this as some discouragement from taking your daily intake of milk. You shouldn’t get rid of this habit as milk still adds value to your nutrition. However, one thing you should bear in mind is how much milk to take on a daily basis.

More milk does not equal better height.

Yup, strange as it might sound, there is such a thing as drinking too much milk. Assuming you aren’t lactose intolerant and weren’t raised vegan, chances are you were probably encouraged to drink lots of milk as a kid. But little did your parents know that drinking three or more glasses of milk every day doubles the risk of cardiovascular disease for women. Drinking too much milk also increases the risk of cancer and makes older adults more prone to osteoporosis and bone fractures.

Milk is also responsible for…

  • Acne: A study in 2016 on the consumption of dairy in teenagers with and without acne found that teenagers who drank higher amounts of skim or low-fat milk had more acne [1]. Dairy may also trigger acne in adults. This may be due to milk’s effects on specific hormones, namely insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1).

  • Other skin conditions: Milk and dairy along with other foods may worsen eczema. Dairy may also be a trigger food for some adults with rosacea.

  • Allergies: According to experts, up to 5% of children have a milk allergy [2]. It can cause gut symptoms and skin reactions such as constipation, colic, diarrhea, and eczema. Other serious reactions include wheezing, breathing difficulty, anaphylaxis, and bloody stool. While children may grow out of a milk allergy, adults can also develop a milk allergy.
  • Lactose intolerance: Cow’s milk has a higher amount of lactose than milk from other animals. It is estimated that from 65 to 70% of the world’s population has some form of lactose intolerance [3].

The takeaway

Milk is naturally packed with essential nutrients in an accessible and convenient form. Although drinking milk is beneficial for children in helping them maintain good health, it is only healthy in moderate doses and may lead to unwanted consequences if giving too much to kids. As best as the current science can answer, no, milk cannot make you grow as tall as you wish simply because, well, many factors contribute to your height, among which milk is just one tiny little contributor.



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