When you’re injured, it’s easy to feel helpless. As if the situation is out of your control. That there’s nothing you can do.
While this is true to a certain extent, there is one important thing you can do to ensure you heal fast and properly: Nutrition!
5 Nutrition tips when battling an injury (from The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition, a Precision Nutrition textbook)
Never is it more important to get enough protein than after an injury. Why? Because it’s a building block for growing and maintaining healthy tissues in the body, which is exactly what you need to do after an injury.
By “enough,” they recommend 1 g of protein per 1 lb. of bodyweight.
4. Vitamin A
Vitamin A helps with inflammation, especially in the early stages of tissue repair. It also strengthens and speeds up the organization of new collagen tissue.
Sure, you might already be taking a multivitamin, but check the dosage on your bottle. Chances are you could use a little more than whatever’s in your vitamins. I
They recommend 10,000 IU/day for the first two weeks post-injury. (Long term supplementation of this kind of dosage is not recommended and could lead to toxicity, but it is good during the acute phase).
Food sources high in vitamin A: Spinach, liver, carrots, sweet potatoes
3. Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps fight infection, as well as strengthen collagen fibres—a protein that forms the structure of tissue.
They recommend 1 to 2 grams per day, especially in the first 3 to 6 weeks after an injury.
Food sources high in vitamin C: red peppers, green peppers, strawberries, kiwi, and, of course, oranges
Zinc is needed for DNA synthesis and protein construction. Also, zinc deficiencies have often been linked to poor wound healing, so if your injury is a wound, up your zinc uptake.
They recommend 15-30 grams per day during the first 3 to 6 weeks after an injury.
Food sources high in zinc: oysters, lobsters, beef, chicken. Some non-meat sources: chick peas, yogurt, baked beans
Copper helps strengthen new tissue and build red blood cells, both of which are important after an injury.
They recommend 2 to 4 mg/day for the first 3 to 6 weeks after an injury.
Food sources high in copper: oysters and other shellfish, whole grains, beans, nuts, leafy greens, potatoes and organ meats
One final bonus tip: You might want to reconsider your fish oil intake after an injury. Its anti-inflammatory qualities might actually slow healing…
If you’re injured, take what little control you do have: Rest up and eat and supplement smart!