Can You Increase Your Height After 18?

Get those extra inches with proper diet, exercise, and other tips to appear taller.

By Charushila Biswas, MSc (Biotechnology), ISSA Certified Fitness Nutritionist

Wondering how to increase your height 18? Adding inches to your height after you have crossed your late teens can be a difficult task, as this is when humans reach their final height. However, many people aspire to grow taller even after they turn 18. The results may not be very significant, but it is better than no growth at all.

In this article, we have listed some tips to increase your height naturally. So, what are you waiting for? Scroll down to learn more!

Increasing Your Height After 18 – Is It Possible?

Fact #1. Can You Really Increase Your Height After 18?

Most people attain their final adult height at 18. Increasing your height after 18 is not possible, even through nutrition and exercise, because the growth plates stop growing.

The growth plates (epiphyseal plates) are present at the end of long bones. The growth plates proliferate to add cartilage, which gets calcified, degraded, and replaced by bone tissue to add height or inches to your growth (1), (2).

However, some people may continue growing until the age of 20 (3), (4).

Why do some people grow taller than the rest? What are the factors that determine height? Here’s what we found.

Fact #2. Factors That Determine Your Height

Boy with father and grandfather showing concept of genes

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There are many factors that determine your height:

  • Genes

According to Genetics Home Research (NIH, USA), 80% of your height is determined by the DNA sequence (or genes) you inherited. The action of many genes (about 50) plays a role in determining your growth (5), (6).

A few examples of these genes are FGFR3, GH1, FBN1, GPC3, and EVC. A single mutation in one of these genes may hinder your growth.

Moreover, your hormones can also affect your growth. Let’s find out how.

  • Hormones

The three main hormones that affect height are:

  1. Growth hormone (GH)
  2. Thyroid hormone
  3. Sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone)

Deficiency in the growth or thyroid hormones may stop growth at an early age.

The sex hormones also play a major role as they affect the growth of boys and girls during puberty. Read more about it in the next section.

Note: Interestingly, your hormones are also determined by the genes you carry and if they are functional at the right time.

  • Puberty

Puberty hits boys at around 11-12 years and girls at 9-10 years (7). Pubertal growth occurs in different phases – growth acceleration and then deceleration.

In the acceleration phase, the increase in height occurs by the activation of the hypothalamus,  pituitary gland, and gonadal glands. This growth is termed as  “adolescent growth spurt” or “take-off” phase for growth in terms of height and sexual maturity (8).

Growth continues during puberty as boys and girls hit the Peak Height Velocity (PHV) phase.  It is the phase in which the increase in height is maximum. The average age for boys to hit PHV is 13.5 years, and for girls is 11.5 years (9).  PHV is highest in early-maturing children than in late-maturing ones. Here’s a table for a better understanding.

Age fo take-off(growth) Age of Peak GVPeak GVDurationTotal height gain
Normal puberty males8-13 years (11 years)13.5 years9.5 cm/y3 years30.5 cm
Normal puberty females9-14 years(9 years)11.5 years8.3 cm/y2.5 years28.5 cm
Early pubertyEarlyEarlyHigherLongerMore gain
Late pubertyLateLateLess+LessLess gain
Obesity (girls)EarlyEarlyLess+LessLess gain
Severe under-nutritionLateLateLessLonger+Same
Chronic dieases: Chronic renal
failure, cystic fibrosis, crohn’s
disease, thalassemia major
LateLateLessNormal or
Longer
Less gain
Athletes*Normal or delayedNormal or delayedNormalNormalNormal
Intenseive training
with energy
restriction
DelayedDelayedLessNormal or
increased
Less gain
  • Nutrition And Exercise
Nutrition and exercise can help to increase height after 18

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What you eat during your growing age and physical activity also help determine your final height. Nutritional Growth Retardation is a condition in which a child’s cells start to compensate for the lack of nutrition with slowed growth (10).

Nutrition during pregnancy also affects the child’s height. Taking iron, iodine, folate, and calcium supplements may help improve the child’s adult height (11).

Along with nutrition, exercising and being physically active from early childhood also helps build better bone density, prevents the onset of osteoporosis, and improves height (12), (13), (14).

You must keep in mind that excessive exercising may also cause stunted growth. The mechanical stress caused due over-exercising causes the nutrition you take to be used up for compensating cellular and metabolic needs (15).

  • Environment

It seems unlikely, but the environment you grow up may also affect your height. Of course, genes are the major players, but so are your social background, geographical location, pollution, economic status, and disease exposure (16), (17), (18), (19) .

Stylecraze Trivia
Today, the average adult is about 5% (8 or 9 cm) taller than their ancestors 100 years ago (20) .

These are the major factors that determine the final height. But let me reiterate a few points. Scroll down.

 Fact #3. Nutrition Helps Before 18

Yes, eating good, healthy food helps. But, before 18. That does not mean you don’t need to eat well post 18. But if you want to increase your height, it is crucial to eat right.

 Fact #4. Exercising Is Important, Even After You Turn 18

Young girl exercising

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Yes, exercising and staying active always helps. Of course, after 20 years, exercising might not help you gain height, but it will help you build lean muscle mass, healthier bones, and better mental health.

Apart from nutrition and exercise, your lifestyle also determines your height. But what kind of lifestyle should you be following? Find out next.

Fact #5. Lifestyle Change Is A Must

An active lifestyle is the best. From as early as 4 years, staying active is the key to not just growing tall but also living a disease-free life. Running, jumping, pull-ups, cycling, playing basketball, football, and swimming are the best exercises.

Also, take a break from your schedule. Of course, you have exams to pass and other dreams and ambitions to pursue, but the piling pressure only increases stress. Stress is bad for your physical and mental health. Seek help from a professional if you need to.

During the growing stage, it is also important to get at least 7 hours of sleep.  Sleeping helps rejuvenate the cells, boost immunity, and reduce stress.

The revelation of all these points got me to the next question. Is the “taller is better” notion just a myth? Here’s the obvious answer.

Fact #6. The Taller, The Better – It Is Just A Myth

Yes, taller is not always better. Look at Peter Dinklage (4’5”) of Game of Thrones fame. What an actor! What has height got to do with any of that flawless acting?

Many other examples include Kate Moss (5’6”), Ariana Grande (5’1”), Jack Ma (5’5”), and the shortest boxer, four-time world champion, Jacob Matlala (4′ 10”).

You must know at least one person in your life who is not tall, but that does not deter them from being the fierce, go-getter that they are.

Fact #7. Accept Yourself Before Others Do

Adjust your sails according to the wind. Accept yourself as you are. Not that you should give up easily when you still have time to increase your height. But knowing when to give up and set sail for things that will define you and improve the quality of your life is also important. Do not let your height define how you feel about yourself. Trust me, there a million other ways to make your mark. Just look in the right place!

The question, however, still remains. How to increase your height, especially if you are over 20 and have stopped growing? Well, you cannot increase your height. But you can create an illusion of height. Here are a few tips to appear taller.

Ways To Appear Taller

How to increase height after 18 by dressing right

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  • Wear heels. Make sure they are comfortable and do not hurt your hips and ankles.
  • Tone up. A toned body looks slender and adds height to your silhouette.
  • Wear dresses that don’t cut your figure off and take away height. An example can be a supermini bodycon dress. Shorter people with curvy bodies tend to look shorter in these kinds of dresses. Try just-below-the-knee, tapered or pencil skirts or bodycon dresses. A plunging neckline and sleek heels add glamor and appeal.
  • A high ponytail or bun always adds to your height.
Young girl with a high ponytail

Shutterstock

  • Wear the right stripes. Vertical stripes are always good for adding height.
  • Wear color-blocked dresses and leggings that make your body appear slimmer and taller.
StyleCraze Says
Tucking your shirt in high-waisted jeans can make you look taller by making your torso look short and your legs look long.

It is impossible for most people to increase their height after 18 as their growth plates stop functioning. However, some studies suggest that some people may grow taller till the age of 20, but you cannot guarantee it. So, it is better to exercise daily and get enough nutrition during your teens to realize your growth potential before you are 18. Of course, a lot depends on your genes and hormones too.

However, there is no truth in the notion ‘the taller, the better’ and always accept yourself the way you are.

References

    1. The growth plate” The Orthopedic Clinics of North America, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    2. The role of the growth plate in longitudinal bone growth.” Journal of the American Association of Instructors and Investigators in Poultry Husbandry, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    3. 2 to 20 years: Boys Stature Weight-for-age percentiles” CDC, USA.
    4. 2 to 20 years: Girls Stature Weight-for-age percentiles” CDC, USA.
    5. Is height determined by genetics?”Genetics Home Reference, U.S. National Library of Medicine, USA.
    6. Genetics of human height” Economics and Human Biology, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    7. Advances in pubertal growth and factors influencing it: Can we increase pubertal growth?” Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    8. Relationship Between Timing of Peak Height Velocity and Pubertal Staging in Boys and Girls” Journal of Clinical Research in Pediatric Endocrinology, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    9. Growth and Normal Puberty” Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics.
    10. Nutrition and Growth” Journal of Clinical Research in Pediatric Endocrinology, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    11. Adult height, nutrition, and population health” Nutrition Reviews, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    12. How does exercise affect bone development during growth?” Sports Medicine, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    13. Effects of physical activity on children’s growth.” Jornal de pediatria, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    14. Impact Exercise Increases BMC During Growth: An 8-Year Longitudinal Study” Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    15. The effects of exercise on growth.” Sports Medicine, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    16. Genetic and environmental influences on height from infancy to early adulthood: An individual-based pooled analysis of 45 twin cohorts” Scientific Reports, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    17. Genetic and environmental influences on growth.” Journal of Medical Screening, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    18. Environmental influences on human growth and development: historical review and case study of contemporary influences.” Annals of human biology, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    19. Influence of environmental factors on height and weight of schoolchildren.” British Journal of Preventive & Social Medicine, National Institutes of Health, USA.
    20. A century of trends in adult human height.” NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC), eLIFE.
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Charushila is an ISSA certified Fitness Nutritionist and a Physical Exercise Therapist. Over a span of 5 years, she has... more

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