Last week, I spoke about Nutrition for Recovery from Injury. If you have not read that post, I encourage you to go back and take a look. I talk about specific nutrition that you can and should apply for when you are injured or recovering from injury. This week, we will do something similar, but go more into specific micronutrients. We are covering nutrition for recovery from injury – micronutrients edition 😉. Let’s dive in.
Nutrition for Recovery from Injury – Micronutrients
Next to the “big” overall concepts you can and should apply to your nutritional approach there are certain micronutrients that make sense to be added into your diet right now. This can either be done by (1) increasing an intake of food that are high in these vitamins or minerals or (2) working with a supplement. Note: I strongly believe supplements are exactly that. They supplement high-dense nutritional foods. You cannot train (or supplement) away a bad diet. But you can support your nutritional needs, especially when your body needs more in times of recovery.
Argininie is an amino acid that helps the body to build protein. It is a pre-cursor for nitric oxide, which has a strong anti-inflammatory response and also supports the building of collagen. Arginine has been discovered to support collagen production in wound healing. Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of arginine. You can find it, among others, in walnuts, cashews, and Brazil nuts, as well as pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds. Arginine is also present in oats, corn, buckwheat and brown rice. In addition, you can also find arginine in dairy products and meats (as they contain all 9 essential amino acids).
Glutamine is another amino acid which is highly anti-inflammatory and decreases infectious complications. Good sources of glutamine can be found in red cabbage, eggs, legumes, nuts, parsley, dark leafy greens, as well as yogurt, ricotta cheese, and organ meat.
Leucine is an amino acid which has been dubbed the “anabolic trigger”. It basically allows for the muscle-protein synthesis to happen faster. Leucine may support the healing and recovery process. Leucine rich foods include cheese, chicken, tuna, salmon, pumpkin seeds, almonds, and tempeh.
Vitamin A is great for your immune system, overall health, and also anti-inflammatory. In particular response to injury, it has been found to assist in wound closure. In wounded tissue, vitamin A supports epidermal turnover (the time for the skin to replace itself) and restores tissue structure. You can find vitamin A (or its pre-cursor beta carotene) in most orange, yellow, and red vegetables and fruits. Think pumpkin, red peppers, carrots, tomatoes, but also milk, eggs, and liver are excellent sources.
Nothing works without this little gem. Vitamin C, again, is super important for our overall immune system. But it also aids in the production of collagen and acts as an antioxidant in the body. The antioxidant properties, also support its anti-inflammatory properties. All of these are particularly important during wound healing. Excellent sources of vitamin C are red bell peppers, cruciferous vegetables, dark leafy greens, tomatoes, and citrus fruits.
Vitamin D is actually acts as a hormone in the body and not really as a vitamin. It is essential and super important for a number of things (I have written an entire blog post on the benefits of vitamin D if you want to check that out). In the context of wound healing, though, it has been shown to induce an antimicrobial peptide, which promotes healing and fights off wound infections. You can find vitamin D in some food sources, but here in Northern Europe we tend to have chronic little vitamin D anyways in our bodies, so I recommend to supplement this one. Nutritionally, you can find it in salmon, cod liver oil, canned tuna, egg yolks, and mushrooms.
More than 200 zinc containing enzymes are helping with your recovery and wound healing. They not only function as antioxidants, but also modulate cell replication, tissue repair, and growth. Zinc is also hugely supportive for your immune system. You can find zinc in many food sources so supplementation may not be needed. Red meat is an excellent source. But also shellfish, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy, and eggs.
Nutrition for Recovery from Injury – Micronutrients Specific for Injury
Last but not least, I wanted to touch on a few micronutrients, which are key when recovering from certain types of injury.
Bone injuries need higher doses of calcium along with optimal levels of vitamin D. Both have been shown to increase your risk of osteoporosis when not adequately in the body. Consequently, it makes sense to have these two at optimal levels when nurturing a bone injury. In addition, vitamin K2 (found in dark leafy greens) also supports calcium absorption in the bones. You can find calcium in winter squashes, edamame, and almonds, but mainly dairy products.
Tendon and Ligament Injury
Vitamin C and copper appear to be very supportive for tendon and ligament injuries. Copper can be found in fish, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
The Takeaway From This Post
I hope this post has provided you with a bit of insight into the topic and role of micronutrients when it comes to recovery from injury. Please discuss any supplemental changes or support with your doctor or healthcare practitioner of your choice. I hope these two posts on nutritional support for recovery from injury have helped you and provided you with a bit more insight. If you are currently injured – get well and better soon 💕. Beautiful cover photo by Eagle Media Pro on Unsplash.