Children come in all shapes and sizes, just like adults and all living things. Just because a child is significantly shorter than their classmates, doesn’t mean the child is unhealthy or wanting in any way.
There are many common reasons why some children may be shorter than their peers of the same age. One common reason is familial short stature, which means a child’s height is the result of having biological parents who are short.
Another probable cause is constitutional delay in growth and puberty, which means the child is a late bloomer. Everyone starts puberty at a different time with growth happening over an extended period, and genetics largely determines growth patterns. Teenagers generally have a “growth spurt” around the time of puberty but it is not unusual for children who have been small all their lives to suddenly have growth spurts in their late teens.
Regular growth rates in humans occur within a range. Most children usually grow until they reach 18 years of age. Before then, a range of environmental factors can affect how tall they become. While both constitutional delay and familial short stature are considered variants of normal growth, our children’s final body height is the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors which can influence height during development; such as nutrition, hormones, medical conditions, activity levels and overall lifestyle.
Scientists estimate that about 80% of an individual’s height is determined by DNA sequence variants inherited from the parents. Knowing a child’s genetic blueprint can help identify the variables so that parents are able to make informed decisions in providing proper nutrition for their children to facilitate and maximise their growth during the growing years.
A DNA test will cover the genes of interest for growth; such as VDR, CYP2R1, NADSYN1 and GC.
From the ages of two to twelve, children grow fast and need to be fed foods that can aid their overall physical development, stimulate the production of the growth hormones, and aid bone growth.
Puberty lasts between 2-5 years for both girls and boys. The average age for boys to show the first signs of puberty is around 12 years old, about one year after girls begin puberty. The final growth spurt for girls tend to be between the ages of 10 and 14 with most reaching their adult height by the time they are 15 years old, while most boys will stop growing taller by age 16 and will usually have developed fully by 18.
During these growing years, foods that supply protein, calcium, iron and vitamins are critical to their growth and development. Lacking vital nutrients and minerals may result in stunted growth and in serious cases, it can impact the development of their mental and motor skills. These nutrients are present in the major food groups of grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy and protein foods.
The crucial time to build strong bones is when we are still children and teens. Children who get enough calcium start their adult lives with the strongest bones possible to protect them against bone loss later in life. Calcium is a crucial mineral needed for strong bones. It’s one of the most abundant minerals in the body, located in the bones and teeth.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “Calcium is the essential building block of bones and teeth.” The daily recommended calcium intake for children between the ages of 1-3 are 700 milligrammes (mg) while those between the ages of 4-8 and 9-18 require 1,000 mg and 1,300 mg respectively.
Inadequate calcium intake for adults has been associated with disorders such as hypertension, preeclampsia, premenstrual syndrome, obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome and hyperparathyroidism.
To meet calcium recommendations, the bioavailability of calcium is an important factor to consider beyond simply the calcium content of foods. Calmax is an ideal source of high bioavailability calcium, naturally sourced from oyster shells. It is formulated with an optimal ratio of calcium and magnesium to support and strengthen bone structure as well as promote healthy teeth.
As various dietary factors can affect calcium bioavailability, our diet must also include food components which act synergistically to promote calcium absorption. These include Vitamin D, lactose and casein phosphopeptides in milk.
All of us have a maximum potential height and a person cannot grow beyond this through supplements or eating certain foods. With the help of a DNA blueprint however, parents can play their parts to help their children reach their full potential height.