How does proper nutrition affect height growth?
Proper nutrition significantly influences height growth, particularly during the formative years of childhood and adolescence. It provides essential nutrients, such as proteins, vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates, that serve as the building blocks for bones, muscles, and tissues.
Nutrients that help teenagers grow taller
Protein is the foundation for bone, muscle, and cartilage growth in teenagers. Having an adequate protein intake from different food groups is necessary if you want to achieve optimal height.
Teenagers need higher protein intake compared to adults for their muscle growth and protein accounts for 14 - 15% of energy (70 - 80 g/day). Foods containing high levels of protein are meat, fish, eggs, milk, shrimp, crabs, beans, etc.
Carbohydrates, which account for 60 - 70% of energy, are the main source to provide energy to the body. Foods that are rich in carbohydrates include sweet potatoes, taros, rice, bread, noodles, corn, etc.
Fat is the most concentrated energy source. 1 g of fat provides 9 kcal of energy. Fat is a reservoir of energy and helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K. Foods containing high levels of fat include nuts, cooking oils, seeds, butter, etc. The amount of fat that should be consumed for a day is about 30 grams (equivalent to 5 teaspoons of oil).
Vitamins and minerals
Some essential minerals
Calcium: Calcium is the main mineral for bone formation. Calcium is provided to the body by nutrition. Foods containing high levels of calcium are milk, almonds, beans, oatmeal, sesame, seafood, etc.
Zinc: Zinc plays an important role in the synthesis, excretion, and activation of growth hormone (GH) and Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in humans and animals, which helps bones and muscles grow well. Zinc deficiency can cause disorders in the growth and development of the body. Foods containing high levels of zinc are shrimp, crabs, oysters, beef, rice germ, nuts, almonds, etc.
Magnesium: Magnesium is a remarkable mineral that serves as a vital cog in the complex machinery of our body's functions. It acts as a natural muscle relaxant, helping muscles contract and relax smoothly. This is especially crucial for the beating of our heart and the movement of all our muscles, from the tiniest twitch of a finger to the grand leap of a sprint.
Phosphorus: Phosphorus works in harmony with calcium to support several crucial functions in the body. While calcium often takes the spotlight for bone health, phosphorus plays an equally important role. Together, they form the structural framework of bones and teeth, helping to ensure their strength and density. This mineral duo is like the building blocks of your skeletal system.
Some essential vitamins
Vitamin A: Vitamin A is essential for the growth and development of the body and the bones. Moreover, it can keep skin and mucous membranes (in the digestive system, respiratory system, eyes, etc.) healthy and uninfected.
Yellow fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, tomatoes, dark green vegetables, and animal source foods, such as liver, cheese, milk, cream, eggs, and butter, can be converted into vitamin A when they are taken into the body.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium and phosphorus to form and maintain healthy bones and teeth. Vitamin D deficiency can cause a decline in bone mineralization leading to rickets in young children and osteoporosis in adults.
Foods that are rich in vitamin D include cod liver oil, salmon, oysters, shrimp, egg yolks, etc. Furthermore, vitamin D can be synthesized in the skin upon exposure to sunlight.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C protects bone structures, teeth, skin, and blood vessels, helps heal wounds, and helps absorb iron, calcium, and folic acid. Vitamin C is found in fresh fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, tangerines, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that plays a vital role in maintaining overall health. Its primary function is to protect cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals, and unstable molecules that can harm cells, proteins, and DNA. By neutralizing these free radicals, vitamin E helps safeguard the body's cells and tissues from oxidative stress, which is associated with various chronic diseases and aging.
Vitamin K: Vitamin K is really important for our body. It helps with two important things: stopping bleeding when we get hurt and keeping our bones strong. When we get a cut or a scrape, vitamin K helps our blood form a scab and stop bleeding so we don't lose too much blood. It's like a natural band-aid inside us. Plus, vitamin K makes sure our bones stay strong and don't break easily.
Should you take dietary supplements?
Taking dietary supplements can be a positive choice in certain situations, as they can provide essential vitamins and nutrients that may be lacking in your diet. While it's generally best to obtain these vital substances from a well-balanced diet, supplements can serve as valuable additions to support overall health and fill potential nutrient gaps. They can be particularly helpful for individuals with specific dietary restrictions, medical conditions, or those who may have difficulty absorbing certain nutrients.
Notes about nutritional supplementation
- Eat a variety of nutrients and avoid eating only one food group constantly.
- Choose fresh foods with no preservatives and no residues of pesticides.
- Stay away from candies and carbonated soft drinks because they will slow down the high growth.
- In addition to nutrition, exercise, and sleep are also important at this stage because puberty is the final stage for children to speed up their height growth.
Proper nutrition plays a pivotal role in supporting healthy growth and development during the critical stage of puberty. While genetics largely determine an individual's height potential, ensuring a balanced and nutrient-rich diet provides the essential building blocks necessary for optimal growth. Key nutrients, like protein, calcium, vitamin D, and various vitamins and minerals, contribute to bone health, muscle development, and overall physical well-being.
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