Thursday, September 23, 2010

Will Milk help you grow taller?

Milk has been a popularly recommended product due to a perhaps coincidental correlation between the dutch diet and height.  Here's a possible mechanism explaining milk and height growth:

Effect of cow milk consumption on longitudinal height gain in children

"Insulin-like growth factor I is present in much higher concentrations in cow milk than in human milk. It is relatively stable to both heat and acidic conditions; therefore, it survives the conditions of commercial milk processing. Milk whey protein, especially milk basic protein, was reported to promote bone formation and to suppress bone resorption, and daily supplementation with milk basic protein significantly increases bone mineral density independently of dietary intake of minerals and vitamins. Whole-body bone mineral content [elevation] in piglets fed arachidonic acid and that liver arachidonic acid was positively related to plasma insulin-like growth factor I and calcitriol. Furthermore, transforming growth factor ß2 was also well preserved in human milk after holder pasteurization at 56.5 °C . Transforming growth factor ß2 inhibits the differentiation of human adipocyte precursor cells and reduces the activity of the lipogenic enzyme glycero-3-phosphate dehydrogenase. [A correlation was found between avoiding milk and obesity in children]. In our longitudinal study, the change in relative weight in the high-consumption group was lower than that in the low-consumption group."

We are used to hearing about TGF Beta 1 in relation to height growth as the TGF Beta 1 helps to regulation the cell cycle and as we saw in our research on DNA Methylation that is very important in terms of growing taller. When DNA Methylation stops, that may be a signal for the resting zone chondrocytes to stop dividing.  If we can alter DNA Methylation, we can alter height growth.  Transforming growth factor Beta 2 has the less impressive ability to inhibit stem cells into adipose tissue but that does increase the likelihood of stem cells differentiating into chondrocytes and osteoblasts.  IGF-1's role in height growth is increasing the extent of chondrocyte hypertrophy.  Now, how much of an increase of IGF-1 can be achieved with natural mechanisms given negative feedback is unknown.  HGH may play a role in regulating that negative feedback and an increase in IGF-1 without an increase in HGH may not increase height growth.

There have been several studies that have linked milk to an increase in growth.  Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone injected cows are the ones rumored to have elevated IGF-1 levels and thereby transferring it into humans. 

Short-term effects of replacing milk with cola beverages on insulin-like growth factor-I and insulin-glucose metabolism: a 10 d interventional study in young men. 

"The present study was designed to reflect the trend of replacing milk with carbonated beverages in young men and to study the effects of this replacement on IGF-I, IGF-binding protein 3 (IGFBP-3), IGF-I:IGFBP-3 and glucose-insulin metabolism. A randomised, controlled crossover intervention study, in which eleven men aged 22-29 years were given a low-Ca diet in two 10 d periods with 10 d washout in between. In one period, they drank 2.5 litres of Coca Cola(R) per day and the other period 2.5 litres of semi-skimmed milk. Serum IGF-I, IGFBP-3 (RIA), insulin (fluoro immunoassay) and glucose (Cobas) were determined at baseline and end point of each intervention period. Insulin resistance and beta-cell function were calculated with the homeostasis model assessment. A decrease in serum IGF-I was observed in the cola period compared with the milk period (P < 0.05). No effects of treatment were observed on IGFBP-3, IGF-I:IGFBP-3, insulin, glucose, insulin resistance or beta-cell function. The present study demonstrates that high intake of cola over a 10 d period decreases total IGF-I compared with a high intake of milk, with no effect on glucose-insulin metabolism in adult men." 

Milk consumption and circulating insulin-like growth factor-I level: a systematic literature review. 

"Ten cross-sectional studies showed statistically positive correlation between milk consumption and the circulating IGF-I level. Randomized controlled trials indicated that the circulating IGF-I level was significantly higher in the milk intervention group. After meta-analysis, the weighted mean difference of the circulating IGF-I level was 13.8 ng/ml (95% confidence interval: 6.1-21.5 ng/ml) comparing the intervention group with the control group." 

So Milk increases IGF-1 levels(from cow treated with Growth Hormone) and it doesn't affect Insulin Resistance(a possible negative feedback mechanism).  High serum levels of IGF-1 has been shown to increase mandibular size in rats. 

Dairy intake associates with the IGF rs680 polymorphism to height variation in periadolescent children.

"We screened 795 periadolescent children (424 girls) aged 10-11 years old from the Gene and Diet Attica Investigation (GENDAI) pediatric cohort for the IGF rs680 polymorphism (rs680).
Children homozygous for the common allele (GG) were taller (148.9+/-7.9 cm) compared with those with the A allele (148.1+/-7.9 cm), after adjusting for age, sex and dairy intake (beta+/-s.e.: 2.1+/-0.95, P=0.026). A trend for rs680 x dairy intake interaction was also revealed (P=0.09). Stratification by IGF rs680 genotype revealed positive significant (P=0.014) association between dairy product intake and height in A-allele children adjusted for the same confounders. A daily increase of four dairy servings was associated with a 0.4 cm increase in height[can this still occur at extremes, does this dairy consumption affect only growth rate or adult height?]. On grouping dairy intake into low (1.9+/-0.7 servings per day) and high dairy product consumption (4.4+/-1.5 servings per day), children with the A allele who were high dairy product consumers were taller compared with the low dairy product consumers (148.8+/-7.9 vs 147.4+/-7.7 cm, respectively, P=0.05).
A higher consumption of dairy products is associated with increased height depending on the rs680 IGF2 genotype."

"women with the A/A genotype were shorter than G/G carriers[for IGF2], and a similar trend was observed in men"<-since IGF2 genes are very important to height maybe milk can be important for height for as long as it affects IGF2.

Cow milk consumption, insulin-like growth factor-I, and human biology: a life history approach.
"The literature tends to support milk's role in enhancing growth early in life (prior to age 5 years), but there is less support for this relationship during middle childhood[maybe IGF-1 only increases growth up to a certain point and after age 5 IGF-1 levels are naturally sufficient not to help with height growth?]. Milk has been associated with early menarche and with acceleration of linear growth in adolescence. NHANES data show a positive relationship between milk intake and linear growth in early childhood and adolescence, but not middle childhood, a period of relatively slow growth. IGF-I is a candidate bioactive molecule linking milk consumption to more rapid growth and development.
Routine milk consumption is an evolutionarily novel dietary behavior [may alter] linear growth."

"Cross-species milk consumption and ingestion beyond the typical weaning period may trigger unanticipated life history consequences."<-Maybe humans are only supposed to drink milk during a limited period of time?

"Milk is the only mammalian food that is produced to be consumed by the same species. Of course, it is produced for consumption only by individuals during one life history stage: infancy. After an infant is weaned, it does not consume milk again, and for the vast majority of mammalian species, the ability to digest lactose diminishes with weaning. Each species' milk is tailored with an array of bioactive molecules (e.g., growth hormones and immune proteins) and nutrients that shape the early developmental trajectory of nursing infants, who accrue body size (weight and linear dimensions) while various organ systems mature."<-Humans don't eat amniotic fluid after all. If they did would they grow taller?

"No statistically significant relationship between calcium and growth in height, regardless of whether calcium is supplied as a mineral supplement or as a milk derivative. Children supplemented with calcium did not grow more in height than did those in the control groups."<-It's not really the serum levels of calcium that matter it's the intracellular calcium secretions.

"The casein portion of milk protein, rather than whey protein, is most closely related to rises in circulating IGF-I after milk consumption"

"Diets high in milk and dairy products in childhood are associated with lower IGF-I in adulthood, suggesting that the short- and long-term effects of milk intake may vary by life history stage"

"There are periods of rapid and slow growth, there may be critical periods during which milk may raise IGF-I levels and contribute to growth, and these feed back over the long term to reduce IGF-I production via pituitary secretion of growth hormone"<-Thus you may want to cycle milk consumption so as to avoid reduced pituitary secretions.

"Milk intake has also been found to be positively related to birth length"

"Children who do consume more cow milk during [ages two to five] are taller than those who drink less "

"Milk consumption had no relationship to height in [ages five to eleven] after controlling for energy, or energy, protein, and calcium intake."

Associations between milk and height were found again between ages twelve and seventeen but those studies did not sufficiently account for confounding variables.

Maybe after age five, milk drinkers should start cycling to avoid reductions in the body naturally producing IGF-1 and thereby resulting in no net increase in serum IGF-1 levels.

Things are looking pretty good for Milk(from growth hormone cows) consumption increasing height. Milk consumption increases serum IGF-1 levels and higher serum IGF-1 levels has positive effects on height growth and bone size. And Milk consumption doesn't seem to involve a negative feedback mechanism like insulin resistance at moderate levels.

Regular milk consumption throughout development should result in a small increase in height by increased chondrocyte hypertrophy. Furthermore, once milk consumption is stopped IGF-1 levels reduce to normal so you don't have to worry about faster cancer spread.


  1. I live in the Netherlands and milk is not as consumed as often as cheese. Cheese is the secret, trust me.

  2. THis is pretty much off-topic
    but minigolfer, can you tell me whether LSJL can be performed on the jaw?

  3. Great post, can you do an update on how you're doing with LSJL? Any new results? Thanks

  4. "Milk(from growth hormone cows) consumption increasing height."

    Does this mean that Organic milk that is obtained from cows not given growth hormone is less effective in increasing height?

    Apart from the height increase thing, non-organic milk is said to be really unhealthy due to all the unnatural things in it. So, I rather drink Organic.