Top Five for Healing
When I learned I had a stress fracture a few weeks back, the one thing that never even caused pause for thought in terms of what my recovery plan would be is what I eat.
After all, you can’t top an eating plan which consists of abundant, seasonal, local organic veggies, mindfully sourced wild proteins and a ample, natural fats, both from humanely raised animals and organic plants alike.
Being someone who is so food-centric as I am, I tend to focus for the most part on a food as medicine approach and don’t delve too much into the supplement arena.
This is certainly not to say that I don’t believe in them; rather, it’s easy to not know exactly what we need and as a result, end up spending money unnecessarily as well as potentially put our health at risk (just because Whole Foods sells it in a nice, neat bottle, that doesn’t automatically mean there’s no risk).
So how do we truly know which we need and which we should give a miss?
If we’re talking overall picture and we want to know which powders or pills we should include in our daily routines for an indefinite period of time, we need some data first.
See your naturopath, your functional medicine doctor or your trusted family physician (so long as he or she is one who supports the role food plays in our health; many do not) and determine together via blood work, urinalysis, stool samples or saliva what you personally need to be investing in to support your own optimal health.
On the other hand, if it’s something you’re trying to address which you would like to include for a finite period of time to address a specific issue (such as a stress fracture), there are a few basics you can opt to include which are risk free and proven to help the process.
Below are five key things to include while your bones heal (supplements as well as food sources) to help with bone healing:
In a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial (1) involving 131 patients with tibial shaft fracture, the effect of supplementation with collagen-building micronutrients on fracture healing time was evaluated. The group of patients taking essential micronutrient supplements containing vitamin C, lysine, proline and vitamin B6 experienced faster fracture healing times. In these patients, fractures healed in 14 weeks. In contrast, it took 3 weeks longer for the patients taking the placebo (sugar pill) to experience similar healing. In addition, in about 25% of the patients in the supplemented group the bone fractures healed by as early as 10 weeks; this was noted in only 14% of the patients in the control group. The patients in the supplemented group also reported improvements in their general feeling of well-being. Best foods? Bone broth! Supplement? Collagen.
Also known as calcitriol. Vitamin D plays a role in regulating bone regrowth after injury by helping your body absorb calcium, a mineral that makes up a portion of bone tissue (2). Calcium is found in hydroxyapatite, the substance that provides strength and hardness to bone tissue. During bone regrowth, the deposition of new hydroxyapatite helps close bone fractures, repairing the injury. Vitamin D helps maintain a proper calcium and phosphorus balance in your body, allowing for efficient formation of mineralized bone tissue. Since we produce vitamin D upon exposure to sunlight, make sure you don’t overdo the SPF. Just a brief 15 minutes per day can help you make this crucial vitamin. Best foods? Fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon all contain a great deal of omega-3 fatty acids. They are also a fantastic source of vitamin D. In a three ounce serving of salmon fillet, you can expect 450 international units (or IUs) of vitamin D. (3)
Vitamin K is known as the “blood-clotting vitamin” for its important role in healing wounds. The “K” is derived from the German word koagulation. It plays an important role in bone health Vitamin K is an important factor in bone health and wound healing. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that makes proteins for healthy bones and normal blood clotting. K helps produce four of the 13 proteins needed for blood clotting and also teams up with other vitamins, working with vitamin D to ensure that calcium finds its way to the bones to help them develop properly. (4)
Sources? Bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract naturally make vitamin K. . Kale contains more than 500 percent the daily recommended allowance for vitamin K, which is important for healthy bones and for healing wounds. Other dietary sources of vitamin K include green leafy vegetables — collards, green leaf lettuce, kale, mustard greens, parsley, romaine lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard and turnip greens — as well as vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage. (5)
As an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory nutrient, vitamin C aids in fracture healing. In both human and animal studies, vitamin C supplementation is consistently found to speed fracture healing. It also improves the mechanical resistance of the new tissue that grows for bone healing, called the fracture callus. (6) Food? The best source isn’t orange juice; it’s a raw red bell pepper! With 95 mg / 1/2 cup serving (7), this is a far better option due to its lower glycemic load.
Magnesium and Phosphorus + Calcium
Along with Calcium, phosphorus is the main mineral found in bones. Supplementing with them during bone healing can help improve the density and strength of the new bone formation. Magnesium contributes to the structure of bones and also aids in calcium transport in the body (8) Best foods? Spinach, Kale, Okra, Collards, sardines, salmon, perch, and rainbow trout top the chart (9).
Do keep in mind, however, that supplements are just that: supplements.
They’re not meant to take the place of an alkaline forming, nutrient dense eating regime based on plants and animals with as few steps from farm to table as possible.
Even the purest, most bioavailable form of calcium taken as a supplement, for example, won’t ‘cancel’ out a diet high in vegetable oils, white sugar and gluten.
(1)”Dr. Rath Health Foundation.” Micronutrients You Rarely Consider For Healing Bone Fractures | The Dr. Rath Health Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2017
(2) Tremblay, MSc Sylvie. “What Vitamins Promote Bone Healing?” LIVESTRONG.COM. Leaf Group, 03 Feb. 2014. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.
(3) Writer, Staff. “10 Foods High in Vitamin D.” Daily Natural Remedies. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.
(4) “Vitamin K.” MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.
(5) Bradford, Alina. “Vitamin K: Sources & Benefits.” LiveScience. Purch, 18 Aug. 2015. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.
(6) Brown, Dr. Susan E. “Can Vitamin C Speed Up Fracture Healing & Reduce Risk?” Better Bones. Dr. Susan E. Brown /wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Logo2-Transparent-padded-1.png, 21 Mar. 2017. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.
(7) “Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin C.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.
(8) Kannall, Erica. “The Best Supplements for Bone Healing.” LIVESTRONG.COM. Leaf Group, 22 Jan. 2014. Web. 08 Apr. 2017
(9) “Top Foods for Calcium and Vitamin D.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2017.