Many of the studies that observe how people grow taller take place in foreign countries where malnutrition is rampant. Unfortunately babies and children are often subject to infections in these countries.
Infections Use Up Nutrients Needed For The Body To Grow Taller
Often infections such as cholera and other foodborne illnesses or water-bourne illnesses are likely to take the lives of children unless medical intervention is received.
These children never have the chance to grow taller and run and play with the other children in their village.
These illnesses always interfere with nutritional status of the children. Whenever the body has to recover from infections, certain nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin A and zinc are called for in higher than normal doses.
It’s possible that one infection after the next can contribute to poor growth and stunted growth because the nutrients just aren’t there in the body to assist in the growth process.
Parasite Infections Are Among The Worst Infections
One of the types of infections that can interfere with the health of a child – or adult for that matter – is a parasitic infection.
There are many parasites to choose from! In Mexico, the primary one may be Giardia lamblia, better known as Giardia infections.
This parasite can be responsible for causing Montezuma’s revenge or traveler’s diarrhea in those visiting the area.
But it can also cause severe diarrhea in those who live in Mexico.
Severe diarrhea can lead to death because of electrolyte loss. Worms, dysentery, viruses and bacteria can all attack the body and cause infections.
How Resistant You Are To Infections Plays A Role
But there’s such a thing as host resistance, whereby the body can have high levels of protective nutrients in it that resist these infections. It’s the environment inside the body that makes up host resistance.
For example, your body could be protein deficient and this can weaken your body’s resistance to infections. You could be deficient in vitamin C and this can also weaken your body’s resistance to infections.
And that’s why researchers from Mexico decided to check into the effect of nutrients and infections on how a child will grow taller.
They understood that vitamin and mineral deficiencies can have an effect on height in children and growth; either the deficiency will stunt a child, preventing his ability to grow taller – or not affect him at all.
Researchers In Mexico City Found Plenty Of Kids With Infections
It wasn’t difficult to find infants in Mexico City who had gastrointestinal parasitic infections. Researchers found 584 infants for the study. The infants were as young as 5 months old and as old as 15 months old.
One of the ways to see if a treatment is working is to see what happens to height and weight. If a child grows taller and heavier, generally this is an indication that the treatment is working.
The researchers gave the infants either 20,000 IU of vitamin A in the form of retinol every two months or a daily supplement of 20 mg zinc.
Retinol is a form of vitamin A. Retinol is unlike beta carotene, which is a pre-form of vitamin A that the body then needs to convert to vitamin A.
Form Of Vitamin A Is Important In Studies
Babies in undeveloped countries are generally vitamin A deficient and need the retinol form, not the beta carotene form of vitamin A.
Vitamin A deficiency can cause blindness and often does exactly that in these undeveloped countries.
Babies older than one year old received a dose of vitamin A equal to 45,000 IU and not 20,000 IU.
They might also be one of the infants in the group that received vitamin A with zinc or a placebo (nothing at all in the way of vitamins or minerals).
Twice a week the infants were monitored over the course of an entire year. The research study can be read at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19623197
Results Of The Study On Height
When babies were given vitamin A, the result was that the babies regained the ability to grow taller. This effect was seen no matter what parasite the babies had – the tapeworm, Giardia or the amoeba infection.
On the other hand, zinc supplementation didn’t affect the ability to grow taller and it did reduce the baby’s ability to grow wider and gain weight.
Flawed Nutritional Studies Are Common
Possibly the study design needed the assistance of a smart nutritionist who would have said that the children needed more than just zinc and vitamin A.
Vitamin deficiencies don’t ever show up as a single deficiency. Instead they come in packs.
A child isn’t just low in vitamin A without being low often in vitamin C, E, and D. A child low in zinc isn’t just low in zinc, but also in copper, iron, boron, calcium, and magnesium.
This is why it’s difficult to believe every nutritional study you hear about or read. Most likely the reason why a child has the ability to grow taller is the culmination of many nutritional influences.
The researchers can’t really deduce any major revelations from this study other than the one that vitamin A supplements can potentially increase resistance to infections and as a result, the ability to grow taller can be free to do just that – grow taller.