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It is always best, if you can, to get nutrients through the food you eat. However, modern diets often fall short of recommended intakes of key nutrients and, when tested, many people have been found to be deficient. Deficiency is even more likely after injury when the demand for nutrients increase. The following are three nutrients that are key for healing and recovery and in which people are commonly found to be lacking.
Dietary surveys of people in the United States consistently show the intake of magnesium to be lower than recommended. Magnesium is essential for the formation of collagen (the main protein in muscles, ligaments and tendons) and for tissue repair [1, 2]. Deficiency in magnesium leads to disturbed healing and can cause numbness, tingling and cramps . It is thought that magnesium deficiency may also enhance pain and inflammation, leading to headache, migraine and fibromyalgia [4, 5].
Supplements: If your intake of green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds is limited, or you suffer from the above symptoms, consider supplementation with magnesium. Chelated forms like magnesium malate are better absorbed. We recommend Jarrow Formulas Magnesium Optimizer available form Amazon.
Studies have shown that zinc intake in 35%-45% of adults, aged 60 years or older, falls below the estimated average requirements for men and women . Zinc plays a number of crucial roles in tissue healing and deficiency has been found to lead to healing delay [1, 2]. Restoration of zinc to normal levels reverses these effects .
Supplements: If you are above 60, or are vegetarian, consider zinc supplementation. We recommend taking Thorne Basic Nutrients multivitamin which contains zinc bisglycinate.
Most Western diets provide 10 to 20 times more omega-6 fatty acid (found in processed food and vegetable oils) than omega-3 fatty acid (found in fatty fish). This imbalance is considered unhealthy (“pro-inflammatory”) and there is general agreement that individuals should consume more omega-3 and less omega-6 fatty acid to promote a healthy inflammatory response.
Supplements: If you do not eat 3 or more servings per week of fatty fish (e.g. salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring) and/or eat a lot of processed foods or vegetable oils, consider supplementing with omega-3 fats. We recommend Jarrow EPA/DHA Balance or Nordic Natural Cod Liver Oil both available from Amazon.
Look out for “Supplements for Injury Part 2” where we will go through three more nutrients important for healing and recovery.
- Arnold, Meghan, and Adrian Barbul. “Nutrition and wound healing.” Plastic and reconstructive surgery 117.7S (2006): 42S-58S.
- Guo, S., & DiPietro, L. A. (2010). Factors affecting wound healing. Journal of dental research, 89(3), 219-229
- Leibenson, C. Rehabilitation of the Spine, 2nd Edition. (2007). Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. p 729-740
- Cohen, S. (2011) Drug Muggers. Rodale. p 166
This post was written by Steffen Toates. Steffen is a chiropractor at Dynamic Health Chiropractic in Jersey, Channel Islands. For more infomation about Steffen click here.