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Does Milk Make You Taller?

Humans are the only known animals that choose to drink milk from another species. We are also the only species that drinks milk beyond infancy. When we continue to drink milk after breastfeeding, we are subject to any chemicals or hormones that might be introduced into the milk. But does milk make you taller?

A girl is drinking milk to get taller

Over the last century, dairy products have become a major part of our daily nutrition worldwide. Public health policies have recommended increased dairy consumption and initiated school lunch programs that include cow milk.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children should have at least two to three servings of dairy products a day. With these changes came an escalation in the demand for milk in the market.

Commercial milk producers then needed to change the way that they farmed to meet the increase in demand. Today, modern milking processes have resulted in measurable levels of naturally produced sex hormones in commercially available cow milk.

This topic is highly debated, and critics haven’t agreed whether these hormones have any biological significance for overall human health or reproductive function. 

Does drinking milk make you taller?

Many studies over the past 10 years have considered if drinking milk makes you taller, and the results are mixed. A study published in 2009 found that the dairy protein itself has a growth-promoting action on the height of the girls (nine years old and older) in the study. 

Some people think that because breast milk makes babies grow rapidly, other milk should help children grow as well. The contents of cow milk are very helpful for providing the nutrition necessary for proper childhood growth, but research hasn’t yet concluded if drinking cow milk helps children grow.

Additional studies have shown that it provides nutrition but is not directly responsible for making you grow taller. 

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Milk benefits for teens: will you grow taller?

There are several benefits to teens drinking milk. The growth and changes that occur throughout puberty require adequate nutrition. Growth requires bone development, which in turn requires calcium. 

Calcium has also been shown to be responsible for the correlation between dairy products and the prevention of unhealthy weight gain among adolescents.

Over the last 10 years, more than a dozen research studies have found dairy calcium can help prevent weight gain and/or lead to positive changes in general body composition. However, the same studies have not identified evidence that drinking milk makes you taller.

Benefits of milk for babies

A mother breastfeeding her baby

Women automatically and naturally make breast milk to feed their newborn babies. It is probably the easiest, least expensive, and most convenient way to feed a baby. However, some women don’t produce enough milk to sustain nutrition or don’t want/aren’t able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons.

According to the World Health Organization, infants can be fed breast milk exclusively for the first six months of their life. The contents of breast milk provide all of the necessary nutrition for healthy growth. Beyond this initial six-month period, parents can then begin to introduce new foods like cereal and fruit into the baby’s diet. 

Cow milk alternatives and their benefits

There have been alternatives to cow milk for centuries, including products from other milk-producing animals (like goats and sheep). Not many people opt for goat or sheep milk to drink, but these are often used for cheese and other dairy products. Unfortunately, for people with milk allergies or who are lactose intolerant, these aren’t good alternatives.

In more recent years, plant-based milk alternatives have become available. These options provide protein as well as other nutrients. Because they are not produced by an animal, they do not cause the symptoms associated with milk allergies or lactose intolerance.

A word of caution: non-dairy substitutes can have higher calories per serving than cow milk, as well as higher levels of sugar than you might expect. 

Although there’s no evidence that drinking cow milk will make you grow taller, it can be a great source of nutrition for individuals of all ages. It can help to build strong bones, teeth, and muscles in growing children and reduce the risk of excessive weight gain among adolescents.

This is particularly important for teens during puberty. For people who have to avoid dairy products, there are lots of non-dairy alternatives available.

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/117/2/544.figures-only

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/d96c/e7e3e92edc406eb654d299b247872c982432.pdf

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1047279716303398

http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/lens/cebp/18/6/1881

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/impact-of-doubling-dairy-or-plantbased-foods-on-consumption-of-nutrients-of-concern-and-proper-bone-health-for-adolescent-females/B295FAFE6EC6F5D846D55C75C94ADEF6

https://www.who.int/features/qa/21/en/

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13197-016-2328-3

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