Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid within the central nervous system that acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter allowing nerve cells to communicate with one another used as an anticonvulsant and antianxiety agent. GABA is responsible for producing a calming effect in the brain, which helps to reduce anxiety and promote relaxation. It is found in 30% of human brain neurons and affects almost all neuronal activity. As with many other amino acids and vitamins, once they are found to have an important role in the body, additional supplements are tried in the hope of achieving some therapeutic or functional purpose. There have been attempts to use GABA as a dietary supplement to improve anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and other problems. However, additional supplements do not make an ingredient more effective if it does work in the body. For example, lubricating oil is necessary for a machine to run, but extra lubricating oil can make the machine run faster and more stable? That’s not necessarily true. It has been found that taking GABA orally can stimulate the production of growth hormone, and some health product manufacturers claim that it can help children grow taller. Is this true?

Gamma-aminobutyric acid and growth hormone

Studies have shown that oral GABA can promote the secretion of growth hormone and thus affect the growth of children. It can stimulate and promote the arcuate nucleus and ventromedial nucleus of hypothalamus, increase the secretion of growth hormone releasing hormone and thus increase the secretion of growth hormone. GABA, on the other hand, can activate the metabolism of glucose phosphatase, promote the biosynthesis of acetylcholine, and inhibit the secretion of growth hormone statin. In 2016, Yamatsu and other researchers pointed out that oral GABA formulation can reduce the probability of insomnia, prolong sleep time, improve sleep quality, improve memory and other effects. By improving sleep at night, when growth hormone production is at its peak, GABA can also promote growth hormone production.

Growth hormone is related to height, and it does not mean that the more growth hormone is taken, the taller the child will grow. For idiopathic dwarf disease without growth hormone deficiency, growth hormone has a limited effect on height. Moreover, growth hormone secretion at a certain time, the total growth hormone secretion may not increase in a day. Growth hormone production can be affected by many factors, such as deep sleep, hunger, trauma, etc. Deep sleep is something we experience every day, but it doesn’t mean we will grow taller because of it. Similarly, there is no evidence that supplemental aminobutyric acid causes children to grow taller.

But as an amino acid, GABA is generally considered safe to add to some foods, but that doesn’t mean it has special benefits. It also stimulates certain chemicals called receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs), which in turn regulate cellular ion homeostasis and increase the amount of GABA released in the body.  This can help relieve stress and enhance sleep patterns, both of which are essential for increasing height. GABA can be synthesized by the human body and is easily obtained through foods such as brown rice, soybeans and adzilla beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, sprouted grains and sweet potatoes.

Above are the foods rich of GABA. Children’s height, as parents, we still need to face the reality that it is the result of the combined action of genes and environment, in which genes play a major role. We can monitor and evaluate the growth curve. If the height is obviously abnormal, we can consult the doctor whether there are pathological factors such as growth hormone deficiency. If there are, we can treat them according to the doctor’s advice. If not, we can ensure that children have balanced nutrition, adequate sleep, and reasonable exercise, and try to avoid the negative effects of diseases and drugs, so as to maximize their height potential. Looking for special drugs to make the child grow taller is more likely to be just spending more money to satisfy the “do something for the child” mentality. If you have a growth hormone deficiency, your doctor may recommend supplements that contain vitamin B6. This vitamin increases the production of GABA in the body, which can then promote healthy growth and weight gain.

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