According to a recent study, the height of girls depends on the protein intake during the growth phase. In boys, on the other hand, a high-protein diet does not seem to affect height.
With plenty of protein, girls can gain a few centimeters in height. Conversely, growth may be slowed with a low-protein diet. In boys, on the other hand, protein intake makes no difference. This is the result of the DONALD study at the University of Bonn. For the current evaluation, 189 healthy girls and boys between the ages of 3 and 17 were followed intensively. Protein intake was recorded using nutritional questionnaires and regular measurements of urinary urea-nitrogen excretion. And of course the height was measured regularly.
The increase in protein intake determines about a few centimeters more or less
The decisive factor for growth is therefore the protein intake, which is higher than the recommended daily requirement. For example, a 15-17 year old girl is recommended 48 grams of protein per day. Based on the data, nutritionists were able to calculate that an increase of about seven grams of protein leads to an increase in height of one centimeter on average. Even though daily protein requirements are even more exceeded, according to available data in girls, protein still has significant effects on growth.
This knowledge can be used to influence subsequent pruning, reports study author Prof. Dr. Thomas Remer. “If no increase in height is desired, girls can even reduce their later adult height by a few centimeters during growth by adjusting their protein intake to recommendations, i.e. not increasing their protein intake. proteins”, explains the expert.
Male hormones apparently prevent the anabolic effect
But why don’t proteins develop their anabolic power in boys? When many would rather have more than less body size? Study author Yifan Hua has an explanation: “Apparently, the significantly stronger effects of sex hormones – including testosterone – on the growth hormone axis leave less room for a nutritional effect. additional anabolic via protein.”
In general, nutritionists advise sticking to the recommended protein intake. In reality, however, many children are overfed with protein – in some cases the intake is 1.7 to 2 times what is needed. “The possible long-term consequences of correspondingly high protein intakes have not yet been satisfactorily researched,” says Professor Remer. “In previous studies, we could only observe positive correlations with increased protein intake for bone stability, provided that fruit and vegetable intake was not too low and the acid load food-related is not too high.”
The results of the study have now been published in the “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism”.