Does Milk Make You Grow Taller? Myth or Truth?

YOU ALREADY KNOW that drinking milk can help you build strong bones and muscles.

That’s because cow’s milk—yes, not almond milk or oat milk or soy milk—is naturally high in calcium, a nutrient that promotes bone density, and protein, which contributes to muscle growth. (One cup of milk contains 293 milligrams of calcium and a bit more than 8 grams of protein, for reference.)

But can milk actually make you taller?


preview for Men's Health US Section - All Sections & Videos

It’s a statement that you might have heard when you were young and has maybe stuck with your through you adult years. Heck, maybe you even tell your own kids the same thing: “Drink milk and you’ll grow up tall and strong.”

Your parents didn’t just make this up out of nowhere, though. Scientists have actually studied this very hypothesis. And dietitians do hear similar questions from their clients.

But just how strong is the link between drinking milk and height? We turned to Kelly Jones M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D. for her wisdom.

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

It is important to recognize, however, that these studies are showing a correlation and not a cause and effect relationship. And that just because a few research reports have found a positive association doesn’t mean that there’s proof milk can make you taller.

So let’s dig in a little deeper..

What does science say about drinking milk and height?

Well, honestly, the research is mixed.

One 2018 study followed a group of participants from birth, through 17 years, and discovered that height increased by 0.39 centimeters per self-reported additional 8 ounces of milk consumed daily. Jones: “However, the authors also noted that the population was mostly of moderate income and reasonably well educated, which can mean results would not be similar in populations with worse access to food or knowledge of appropriate eating patterns.”

Plus, there are other factors that may influence the results. “In some of the studies showing a correlation between milk intake and height, other factors may not have been considered, such as overall diet quality, including adequate intake of protein, calcium, vitamin D, and other nutrients,” she says.

Then there’s a 2019 systematic review, which stated that adding dairy products to person’s diet was associated with increased bone mineral content during childhood, but there was no correlation between dairy and height.

And then there’s a 2020 study published in the journal Nature that found that milk consumption was associated with increased weight-for-age and height-for-age in children and reduced the probabilities of being moderately or severely underweight or stunted—but also the effect was dependent upon geographic location and income level.

So, in short, it’s complicated.

“It may also be that those who do not drink milk are consuming sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, which may impair bone health (with bone health being important for reaching appropriate peak height),” Jones says

Plus, all this research was done on children. So if you’re looking to gain height 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 grow taller


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

“Additionally, many do not consume adequate fatty fish, one of the few natural sources of vitamin D, and milk can provide that as well,” she says.

Plus, milk protein is known to be very beneficial for muscle growth and repair, so, go ahead, enjoy it in your post-workout shake.

Headshot of Isadora Baum

Isadora Baum is a freelance writer, certified health coach, and author of 5-Minute Energy. She can’t resist a good sample, a margarita, a new HIIT class, or an easy laugh. Learn more about her on her website:

Headshot of Paul Kita

Paul is the Food & Nutrition Editor of Men’s Health. He’s also the author of two cookbooks: Guy Gourmet and A Man, A Pan, A Plan.

This article was originally posted here.

Comments are closed.