Nutrients That Aid Recovery
Whether you have a muscle strain, stress fracture, or even a significant cut or wound, what you eat can have a significant impact on how quickly and efficiently your body heals.
If you’re recovering from an injury, make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of the following nutrients in your diet:
Most people know that protein is important for building and repairing muscle, but did you know that our bones and skin depend on a constant supply of protein, too?
Our bones are made up of ~50% protein by volume1, and the proteins elastin and collagen are integral for making our skin strong. Protein needs may be 20-30% higher than usual, depending on the extent of the injury.
Try adding 2-4 oz. of extra protein to your diet (such as an extra serving of chicken at dinner, a cup of low-fat chocolate milk as a snack, or a cup of Greek yogurt before bed).
Vitamin C and Zinc
Both of these nutrients are critical for supporting immune health and healing damaged ligaments and tendons. Food sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits as well as strawberries, broccoli, red peppers, and potatoes; zinc sources include beef, fish, nuts, and some grain products.
Vitamin D and Calcium
These two nutrients are especially important for any bone injury! Calcium is the main mineral component that makes bones hard and strong, and vitamin D greatly increases the body’s absorption of calcium. The best sources are milk and yogurt fortified with vitamin D.
This nutrient is important if you are taking any serious pain killers as these medications can slow down GI function. If you do increase your fiber intake (by eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and whole grains), you also should increase your water intake to allow for proper digestion.
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For more information (including more food choices) for the nutrients above, see the original reference for this article: EatRight.org.
1 Heany, R.P. & Layman D.K. (2008). Amount and type of protein influences bone health. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 87 (5): 1567S-1570S. Retrieved from: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/87/5/1567S.full