Published: 02/01/2016 - Updated: 10/31/2018
Author: MSc. Miriam Reyes
You are interested and perhaps even concerned that your children are getting taller, as you see that this process is being carried out very slowly. First off, you should know that height or build is not necessarily 100% inherited from parent to child, but in fact the foundation for a child’s consistent and optimal growth is food.
Your child should not miss out on seven essential food elements for growth: minerals like calcium, phosphorus and iron as well as vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins and water. Do not forget to take your children to their monthly consultation with the doctor in their early years, as childhood is the key stage in life where they should receive all the necessary nutrients for their physical and mental development, which will serve as a basis for later years.
Dietary elements to aid children’s growth
For healthy growth, their bones should be strong and calcium is a necessary element for that. Calcium is a mineral that is present in dairy products such as milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter and your children should consume these foods as a priority. We recommend that these dairy products should be low-fat and as natural as possible, to make better use of their high calcium content.
On the list of minerals, phosphorus should not be missed off because its work is closely linked with calcium to strengthen bones and help form gums. It is no good for children to have a high intake of calcium unless accompanied by phosphorus. This mineral is essential in the daily diet as in turn, it is involved in other functions of our body such as cell division and reproduction, as well as effective absorption of vitamins B2 and B3, among others. Phosphorus can be found in fish, chicken, artichokes, beans, peas, lentils and mushrooms, among other foods.
Another important mineral for growth is iron, as properly consumed it not only strengthens the immune system, but also contributes to growth at various stages of a child’s development. Other important benefits of iron include: increases energy, improves concentration and strengthens nails, among others. Iron can be found in liver, beans, beef, lentils, spinach, fish, oats, soy beans and plums, among others.
Proteins are a special food for the growth and development of our children. Their main value is playing a vital role in the formation of new tissues. They are also valued for their rich content of amino acids, which are responsible for stimulating growth hormones. Proteins are found in fish, eggs, poultry, low-fat dairy, nuts such as walnuts, soy and chickpeas.
5. Citrus Fruits
Our children should not be missing citrus fruits from their daily diet, as the rich content of Vitamin C present in this food group favours the absorption and setting in of calcium in our bones. Citrus fruits include lemon, orange, lime, grapefruit and tangerine. Vitamin C is also present in vegetables such as broccoli, peppers, spinach and tomatoes.
Among the most important vitamins for growth are Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Vitamin C which we discussed and is present in citrus. Vitamin A is also known as retinol and its contribution to growth is linked the production of new cells. Milk is a source of Vitamin A, as well as yoghurt, liver, salmon and yellow vegetables. Vitamin D, in turn is important for calcium absorption in the intestine and bone mineralisation, however can be found in very few foods. An alternative to make our body produce its own Vitamin D is to expose it to the sun, some 10 minutes every day. Foods containing it include cod liver oil, salmon, mackerel, fortified milk and orange juice.
For optimum growth in children, it is not only important to consume the foods described above, but to consume water in large amounts proportional to weight as well. On average everyone should drink two litres of water a day, as this will be enough for the body to operate at 100% capacity. It is advisable to drink pure water, not sweetened with sugar or other sweeteners.
Other advice to encourage growth
In addition to a good diet, during puberty which is where the first hormonal changes occur, we must encourage our children to practice regular exercises; especially those that help them gain stature. Some great exercises to do are: touching the toes and stretching the arms upwards. Others can be done using a rail. Among the sports that make them gain height are basketball and swimming.
- Murty, C. M., Pittaway, J. K., & Ball, M. J. (2010). Chickpea supplementation in an Australian diet affects food choice, satiety and bowel health. Appetite, 54(2), 282–288.
- Rachwa-Rosiak, D., Nebesny, E., & Budryn, G. (2015). Chickpeas-composition, nutritional value, health benefits, application to bread and snacks: a review. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 55(8), 1137–1145.
Revised by: Dra. Loredana Lunadei on 10/31/2018
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