A few recent articles that was reported to me has had me go back to the link between increased levels of Iron in a person’s blood and a very noticeable increase in a person’s adult height, compared to a person with iron levels that are closer to average levels. Let me refer the readers to the following links below…
- Increased Height in HFE Hemochromatosis – www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMc1303066
- Once Weekly Is Superior to Daily Iron Supplementation on Height Gain but Not on Hematological Improvement among Schoolchildren in Thailand1 – http://jn.nutrition.org/content/132/3/418.full
The idea that oral ingestion of such a common, easy to obtain supplement to help one grow taller is shocking, but it does seem, based on the backing of the medical professionals, that taking Iron supplements when a person is still developing has a very noticeable effect on their final adult height.
Originally, the article was brought up by someone from the reddit/r/tall subreddit group and it lead me back to a very short, blurb of a post I wrote last year on the link between Iron and people being taller. Back then, I did absolutely no work or analysis on what is really going on. – (http://www.naturalheightgrowth.com/2014/02/07/increased-height-iron/)
Here is my new, much more detailed analysis on the link.
First, we have to realize that almost any type of vitamin/mineral/nutritional deficiency that one suffers when one is younger, particularly when one is still a baby, infant, or child, has the effect of stunting the growth of the person. While the human body is said to be almost all Carbon, Oxygen, Nitrogen, and Hydrogen, there is a small percentage of the human that operates based on the unique characteristics of other elements. Calcium, Pottasium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Copper, Sulfur, Chlorine, off of the top of my head.
I am not a nutritionist, but I would assume that to get all of the other minerals/elements into our body, we need to be eating a variety of different types of foods, including fish, meat, nuts, fruits, etc. This is to make an effort to get all of the necessary minerals the body needs to grown to its natural maximum height. What I am talking about is the stunting effect of not having enough of some mineral or vitamin.
However, I have not really heard of the ability of a vitamin or mineral, when in excess can actually help the human body become taller. The common idea with nutritionists is that anything can become a poison to the human body, at a high enough concentration. This old idea would suggest that a higher than average level of iron intake into the human body would have an adverse effects on health, thus decreasing the person’s eventual adult height.
That is not what the medical researchers are saying though. When you have the body oversaturated with iron, the child grows up to be taller than if they just took an average amount of the mineral. Of course I am not stupid and suggest that a mother should be feeding her new born iron infused formula to possibly turn the kid into a basketball player, going that extreme.
Let’s take a look at the studies to see what they are actually saying.
The first study is talking about a iron condition known as HFE associated Hemochromatosis. This unique physiological trait that is genetic derived seemes to cause higher than average levels of iron to be adsorbed and retained in the body. It seems that when a person is growing, the growth rate has some type of effect on the level of iron in the person’s body.
When the human body is going through a rate of higher than average growth, like through a growth spurt or puberty, there is not enough iron that is available in the body to maximum the rate of interstitial growth. This means that for most people who don’t have the HFE Hemochromatosis, they did not maximize their rate of growth to maximum height.
In the study, about 175 participants from Switzerland went in for testing. 93% of the participants were found to have a homozygous C282Y mutation. Their iron levels in the blood were tested and were found to have serum ferritin level of more than 300 μg per liter or a transferrin saturation of more than 45%. There was about 120 men and the rest were female. The men’s heights, when averaged out turned out to be a little over 178 cm, which is around 4 cm higher than the average height taken from Swiss Military records. The female subjects’ average height was around 167 cm, or 3.3 cm higher than the average height of females.
To scale the data correctly to a reference/scale, data from a reference population in Ireland was used, which has the highest percentage of people having the C282Y mutation of all European nations. This is to remove the possibility that there is a large percentage of people with Northern European ethnicity in the 175 subject group. The data is statistically relevant, with P<0.001
The researchers suggested that it is possible that the increased levels of iron helped in the growth process in the first 2 decades of a person’s life.
The 2nd study’s main point is that it would make sense for a person to take iron supplements intermittently than on a regular basis, at least to prevent the onset of anemia in developing countries.
The following factors were tested from doing two tests, giving ferrous sulfate daily and weekly (as well as Albendazol to help treat intestinal worms).
The results showed that the hemoglobin levels were the same for the daily and weekly. The level of serum ferritin (SF) was higher in the daily dosage group. It was the group that was given the ferrous sulfate on a weekly rate that had a slightly higher amount of vertical growth, at about just 3 mm more. The total number of children who participated in the program was about 400.
Iron deficiency derived Anemia was gone though.
Based on the two studies, and the dozens of other studies that is referenced, I would like to make a few guesses on what this all means.
Most developing nations, where the children don’t get regular access to meat and sources of high protein, have stunted growth. One of the main ways the growth is stunted is not getting enough iron in the blood. Parents who believe that they should only be feeding their children vegetarian diets are depriving their children of certain minerals, like iron, which is hard to get from vegetables and fruit.
If we remember, the traditional idea is that the East Asians, specifically the Japanese, are below average in stature. The Japanese have always had a diet high on seafood and fish, which is high in iodine, but low in iron. After hundreds of years, the Japanese, along with other East Asian females developed higher rates of Anemia (due to Iron Deficiency), Short stature, and Osteoporosis.
Obviously women have smaller appetites. Based on a study in Canada (British Columbia), the adult male is supposed to get 8 mg of iron, while women are supposed to get 18 mg of iron. In addition, when the female is pregnant, she should be getting 27 grams of iron, to account for the fact that the developing fetus in her uterus is sucking away the calcium and iron levels from her body to form itself. East Asian females in particular are notorious for not eating enough, and trying to loss weight through dieting.
There are just too many stories of women who develop osteoporosis from pregnancy.
I personally suspect that this condition that pregnant human females develop, known as Pica, (the unusual desire or craving for strange food like dirt), is the body telling the female that she needs a source of calcium, or iron fast.
Eating strange things, like dirt, paint, soil, clay, ash, etc. is a common practice in some countries in Africa, like Kenya. There is even a store in Georgia selling clay for pregnant expectant mother under the name Kaolin (aka Geophagic Earth). Further research on the internet validated the idea that the medical condition known as Pica seems to be related to Iron Deficiency. Clay itself has a high level of calcium, iron, magnesium, and copper.
This might tangentially explain why a small minority of females have reported (only anecdotally) growing taller after pregnancy, sometimes by as much as 2.5 inches. It might not just be the relaxin effect, or the loss of calcium from their bones. It might also be the increased levels of consumption of iron in their diet, through very strange cravings.
What this post is suggesting is that it might be a good idea to make sure that the developing child and the pregnant female is getting a lot of iron, calcium, and minerals through her system to maximize health and final adult height.
I am willing to make a bet that as much as 3-5% of all females can gain around 1 Inch of extra height through their first pregnancy, if they can get their stimulated relaxin, calcium, PTHrP, and Iron levels just right, so they all operate at exactly the right step (in this multistep process) to remodel the tensile strength of the bones (by reducing Calcium Hydroxyapatite crystals embedded in the Organic ECM), turning them almost collagenous in nature (using increased PTHrP level), relaxing the surrounding soft tissue like tendons using relaxin, and then re-hardening the bones up through increased Iron and Calcium levels.