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Does milk make you taller? Myth or Truth?



You already know that drinking milk can help you build strong bones and muscles.

That’s because cow’s milk is naturally high in calcium, a nutrient that promotes bone density, and protein, which helps muscle growth. (One cup of milk contains 293 milligrams of calcium and a smidgen of more than 8 grams of protein for reference.)

And yes – that means chocolate milk too, which is why you may see certain athletes enjoying chocolate milk in their post-workout shakes or straight from a glass after a cardio or workout session.

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But can milk make you taller too?

It’s a statement that you may have heard when you were young and that may have stayed with you through your adult years. You may even say the same thing to your own children: “Drink milk and you will grow big and strong.”

But your parents didn’t just make it up out of nowhere. Scientists have examined this very hypothesis. And nutritionists hear similar questions from their clients.

But how strong is the relationship between drinking milk and body size? We turned to Kelly Jones MS, RD, CSSD for her wisdom.

“There are actually several published studies that show that drinking milk is associated with very small increases in height in children,” says Jones.

However, it is important to recognize that these studies show a correlation and Not a cause and effect relationship. And just because some research has found a positive association, doesn’t mean there’s evidence that milk can make you taller.

So let’s go a little deeper …

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What does science say about milk and height?

In all honesty, the research is mixed.

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A 2018 study tracked a group of participants from birth to the age of 17 and found that height increased by 0.39 cm for every self-reported additional 8 ounces of milk consumed daily. Jones: “However, the authors also found that the majority of the population had moderate incomes and were reasonably well educated, which may mean that results would not be similar in populations with poor access to food or knowledge of appropriate eating habits.”

In short, it’s complicated.

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In addition, other factors can affect the results. “Some studies showing a correlation between milk intake and height may not have considered other factors, such as overall diet quality, including adequate intake of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients,” she says.

Then there is a 2019 systematic review which found that adding dairy products to the person’s diet was linked to increased bone mineral levels during childhood, but there was no correlation between dairy products and height.

“Also, those who do not drink milk may be consuming sugary beverages, such as soft drinks, that can affect bone health (with bone health being important in achieving an appropriate peak height),” says Jones

Plus, all of this research was done on children. So if you are looking to gain size as an adult, you may have missed your window.

Should you still drink milk?

Yes, even if the research is mixed.

Can Drinking Milk Help You Get Taller?

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Milk still offers a ton of beneficial nutrients. Milk is one of the few consistent sources of calcium that we know is important for bone health.

“Additionally, many consume insufficiently fatty fish, one of the few natural sources of vitamin D, and milk can provide that too,” she says.

Also, milk protein is known to be very beneficial for muscle growth and repair. So enjoy it in your post-workout shake.

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