Q: I am a 20-year-old girl and am desperate to increase my height. Can you please suggest a way?

Height increases primarily due to the lengthening of our long bones, when the growth plates are still active or “open”. The growth plates, or epiphyseal plates, are areas of specialised cartilage near the end of our long bones. By the end of puberty, hormonal changes cause the growth plates to harden or “close” and the lengthening of bones to stop. Growth plates close around age 16 in girls and somewhere between age 14 and 19 in boys.

Height is determined by a range of factors, including genetics, medical conditions, nutrition, exercise. Genetics account for the majority of person’s height. Sex is another biological factor that plays a role in determining a person’s total height. Women tend to have less total height potential than men.

Medical conditions can also play a role in determining a person’s height.

Growth hormone deficiency; thyroid hormone deficiency, which also affects brain development; and achondroplasia, a hereditary disorder in which primarily the ends of the long bones fail to grow, resulting in disproportionately short limbs, can affect height. Other causes of restricted growth in children include certain drugs, particularly corticosteroid drugs and anti-cancer drugs.

Getting good nutrition that includes dietary sources of vitamins and minerals helps people grow. Conversely, individuals who do not get adequate nutrition may not grow as tall. So, children who eat a diet rich in calcium, protein and other nutrients will be able to maximise their potential for growth. One great way to combat nutrient deficiencies and promote optimal bone growth is to increase your intake of fruits, vegetables and protein. Consume at least 20 grams of protein at each meal. Good sources of protein include eggs, poultry, lean meats and dairy. Soy and other legumes are also high in protein.

Physical activities play a role in childhood growth and height, as being active promotes the release of the growth hormone. Unfortunately for most adults, there is not much that can be done to increase height.

Although most adults won’t grow taller after age 18 to 20, there are exceptions to this rule.

If you are an adult who is unsatisfied with your height, here are a few things you can try:

Practice good posture: Poor posture can rob anyone of a few inches of height.

Try heels or inserts: Choose shoes with taller heels or place inserts in your shoes to add up to a few inches of height.

Gain muscle to look and feel stronger: If you feel small in general, lifting weights to gain muscle can make you more muscular and confident.

Dr Asok Cheriyan is a specialist diabetologist at Al Waha Clinic Diabetes Centre, Dubai. Got a problem? Our fantastic panel of renowned experts is available to answer all your questions related to fashion, well-being, nutrition, finance and hypnotherapy. Email your queries to friday@gulfnews.com.

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