If your height is a little on the short side, you may wish you could add a few inches to make yourself a little taller. After all, taller women and men are perceived by others to be more confident, healthy, and even more likely to be chosen for highly competitive jobs.
Based on first impressions, taller people seem to have an advantage over those of us who are shorter than average.
If you’re short, you may be looking for ways to increase your height.
Can human growth hormone therapy make you taller? Read on to find out.
What Is Human Growth Hormone?
Human growth hormone (HGH) is a hormone released into the bloodstream from the pituitary gland. HGH helps with the breakdown of fats and processing of proteins. In children and adolescents, HGH is essential for the development of bones and muscles, which contributes to normal growth.
But long after you stop growing, HGH is still important. Well into adulthood (and throughout the course of your life), HGH helps maintain normal brain function (i.e., focus, memory, learning), regulates mood and motivation, and keeps the bones strong and muscles healthy.
What Determines Height?
If you’ve observed different families together, you’ve likely noticed that height seems to be a family trait. This is because genetics play a key role in determining how tall or short a person will be. However, when a baby is born we can’t just assume they’ll be around the same height as their parents. This is because there are several factors that play a role in how tall or short a person will be.
Factors that determine height include:
Genetics. Approximately 80% of an individual’s height is determined by genetics. If one parent is tall and the other is short, you may end up as tall as the average height between the two of them after your growth spurt, or you may mirror the height of one of your parents.
Nutrition. Remember your parents telling you you needed to eat your vegetables in order to get big and tall? Turns out, they were (mostly) right. While eating a plate full of vegetables at every meal won’t make you taller, getting adequate nutrition during your childhood and adolescence is essential for human development, including height. Eating a balanced diet of whole, nutrient-rich foods can help ensure a child grows to be as tall as their genes dictate. A poor diet during childhood may lead to short children due to nutritional deficiencies.
Hormones. Human growth hormone is the most important hormone for growth and height. Children born with a growth hormone deficiency will grow at a much slower rate than average and may end up shorter as adults than their genetics would otherwise determine. Thyroid hormone can influence growth because it is needed for the production of HGH. Sex hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen, also play a role in growth during puberty.
Congenital disorders. Some health conditions present at birth may play a role in a person’s height. For example, achondroplasia is a genetic bone growth disorder that results in shorter stature. Turner Syndrome is another congenital disorder that causes delays in puberty and may lead to a shorter stature in females. In contrast, some congenital disorders, such as Marfan syndrome and Klinefelter syndrome, can cause an individual to be significantly taller than the average person.
Does HGH Make Children Taller?
Children with idiopathic short stature (i.e. being short with seemingly no known cause) can take synthetic human growth hormone treatments to promote an increase in height. Synthetic HGH is also used to treat children with underlying medical conditions related to short statures, such as growth hormone deficiency and Turner syndrome.
Although it may take several months to see any noticeable height differences, HGH therapy during childhood can have a variety of potential benefits, and may add between 1-3 inches to their adulthood height.
HGH treatment is a long-term commitment, and some children may need to take it for years or until they reach full bone maturity for optimal results and normal height. The child’s doctor will call for frequent visits to check on the child’s growth and to monitor for any potential side effects from the treatment.
While growth hormone may make the individual taller than they may have been without HGH therapy, they may still be shorter than average.
Does HGH Make Adults Taller?
Some people may believe they will grow taller in their 30s and 40s if they take human growth hormone. However, there is no scientific evidence that shows that HGH makes adults taller.
This is because by adulthood, the growth plates in your bones have closed and you will not grow taller, as you’ve already reached your full height once growth plates close. This usually occurs at the end of puberty, typically between 15-17 years old for boys and 13-15 years old for girls. After this point, you’ve reached your full adult height and will not grow taller.
What Are the Other Benefits of HGH?
Our human growth hormone levels gradually decrease after the age of 30. Over time, the body’s natural HGH levels continue to decline, which plays a role in the aging process.
However, HGH — when prescribed by a physician — may be able to offer a number of benefits to individuals who have deficient levels.
Benefits of HGH may include:
- Increased lean muscle mass
- Decreased body fat
- Improved mood
- Regulated blood sugar levels
- Boosted energy levels and metabolism
- Restored sex drive/libido
- Better quality of sleep
- Improved stamina
- Increased hair growth
What Are the Risks of Taking HGH?
HGH therapy should only be used if you’ve been diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency. It should only be taken under the guidance of a healthcare provider.
If you have not been diagnosed with a growth hormone deficiency, taking extra human growth hormone can actually be harmful to the human body. Rather than making your bones taller in adulthood, HGH will only make your bones thicker.
HGH levels that are too high in adults may cause:
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Joint pain
- Fluid retention
- Thick, coarse skin
Long-term use of HGH therapy, especially in high doses, can cause acromegaly, which causes bones and body tissues to grow quickly. Over time, this may lead to abnormally large feet and hands. It may also lead to high blood pressure and heart disease.
Are There Other Ways To Get Taller?
Many doctors and inventors have created so-called promising “treatments” that claim to increase an adult’s height. The truth is, what they’re selling is akin to snake oil — it won’t work.
Once you reach adulthood, there is no way you can increase your height. Once your growth plates have closed after puberty, no medications, supplements, or therapies can add inches to your height.
There are things you can do to improve the appearance of your height, even if it doesn’t physically make you taller:
- Good nutrition. Eating a well-balanced diet rich in nutrients will help you stay healthy and help build your muscle and bone mass. Aim to eat foods like vegetables, fruits, proteins, and whole grains.
- Regular exercise. While physical activity won’t increase your height, it can improve your physique, build muscle, redistribute fat, and help improve your posture. Workouts like stretches and yoga can be an effective way to help stretch and elongate your spine, and weight lifting will strengthen both your muscles and bones.
- Healthy sleep. Getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night will help you feel and look younger. Your body releases natural HGH while you sleep, which contributes to keeping your body healthy and strong and your mood stable and balanced.
- Correct posture. If you have poor posture, this can make you appear shorter than you are. Focus on sitting and standing up straight to stand at your full height — shoulders back, with your belly pulled in toward your spine. Posture correctors are available online and at some retailers to help you stand (and sit) tall and improve your posture.
Many adults who are on the shorter side of average wish to add inches to their height. However, HGH has not been shown to add height to anyone who has completed puberty.
If you have a child who isn’t reaching growth milestones, speak with their pediatrician, who may refer you to a pediatric endocrinologist who can determine if your child would benefit from HGH therapy.
Adults should only take human growth hormone when prescribed by a healthcare provider. HGH is typically prescribed after an adult has been diagnosed with growth hormone deficiency.
While this treatment will not help you grow any taller, it may offer potential health benefits, including stronger bones, more muscle mass, and increased energy levels.
Is Height Determined by Genetics? | Medline Plus
Growth hormone significantly increases the adult height of children with idiopathic short stature: comparison of subgroups and benefit | NCBI
Growth Plates | Nemours Kids Health