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The lowdown on height-boosting pills

Update: November, 23/2016 - 09:00
Students of Đoàn Thị Điểm primary school in Hà Nội play football. According to doctors, physical outdoor activity increases calcium and vitamin D. - VNA/VNS Photo Quốc Khánh
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI - There is no indication that children who are given so-called height-boosting pills grow taller than those who are not. Yet many websites advertise the pills and parents are often seduced by the promise.

N.P.T, a 38-year-old mother in HCM City, says every mother wants her children to grow taller. Seeing height-increasing pills advertised online, she wants to buy them immediately.

“However, I have also carefully done a lot of research to see whether they are reliable or not. If it is really as effective as advertised, I would not hesitate to buy it for my child,” she said.

Doctor Huỳnh Thoại Loan, head of the department of nephrology at Paediatrics Hospital No.1 in HCM City, said some of the pills contained nutritious elements, such as calcium. "But they can only act as a dietary supplement. So far, there are no studies showing that they boost height," she said.

Doctor Tạ Văn Bình, former director of the National Hospital of Endocrinology, warned that the growth hormones contained in the pills could have negative effects, such as bone and joint pain and change in face structure.

Another danger is an overdose of calcium from the pills, leading to its accumulation in the kidneys, causing kidney stones and other kidney disease, he said.

According to Professor Trần Ngọc Ân, president of Việt Nam’s rheumatism study association, the main ingredient of many pills being advertised to help increase height is chondroitin sulfat, supposed to be produced from shark fin cartilage. However, due to a shortage of shark fin cartilage, and in order to reduce production cost, in many products it is made from ox windpipes and additional chemicals.

Chondroitin sulfat is used to treat optical disease, joint-bone failure diseases and cancers. There are no studies showing it boosts height.

"Việt Nam’s authorised health agencies also have yet to license the sale and use of any kind of height-boosting pills," Ân said.

Experts also warn that taking the pills during puberty might limit growth and lead to functional disorders.

Doctors’ advice

Doctor Huỳnh Thoại Loan says mothers should ask for doctors’ advice if they want to give their children such pills.

A person’s height depends on three elements, she says, namely genes, nutrition intake and growth hormone. If parents are short, their children may not grow to be tall.

In terms of nutrition intake, the two most important nutritional sources are total energy and calcium. Bones are structured by calcium. Height depends on how tall the skeleton is. Adding these elements to the daily nutritional routine can help stimulate height, she said.

Sleep is also important since the body produced growth hormones at night, Loan said.

She also advised children to increase physical activities such as swimming, playing basketball, cycling in order to extend their thigh bones. Play outdoors and being exposed to sunshine for a sufficient level of vitamin D in the blood is also important. -- VNS

 

 

 

 

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