RESEARCH ON FOODS THAT HELP HEAL BROKEN BONES
Summarized by Rosemary Fisher
Nutrition's Role In Increasing The Speed Of Bone Healing
The most important influences on fracture healing are nutrition and overall health, including bone health, before the injury, says orthopedist Martin Yahiro, M.D., a consultant to FDA. "That's why it's so important all your life to do weight-bearing exercise such as walking and get enough calcium and vitamin D, so you lay down as much bone as possible during growth and keep as much as you can later on."
The healing time for broken bones is influenced by a number of variables that nutrition can impact including blood supply. For example, the ends of long bones are vascular so they heal faster than the center. Certain types of food and exercise foster increased blood supply and hence time it takes to heal. Mobilization, i.e. weight bearing exercises and isometric exercises stimulates healing.
High Calcium Foods For Bone Healing
There are number foods that are high in calcium to consider. The following chart should serve as a guideline.
Calcium content of different foods
|Type of food||Amount||Milligrams of Calcium|
|Non fat yogurt||1 cup||415|
|Sardines (Atlantic with bones)||3 oz||372|
|Collard Greens||1 cup||355|
|Pink Salmon (canned with bones)||6oz||334|
|Skim Milk||1 cup||302|
|Calcium Fortified Orange Juice||1 cup||302|
|Bok Choy||1 cup||250|
|Turnip Greens||1 cup||200|
|Soy Beans||1 cup||180|
|Mustard Greens||1 cup||150|
|Black Molasses||1 tbsp.||140|
|Great Northern Beans||1 cup||140|
|Non fat Baked Beans||1 cup||130|
|Navy beans||1 cup||130|
|Corn Tortilla||1 tortilla||120|
|Kidney Beans||1 cup||115|
|Acorn Squash||1 cup||90|
|Spinach (Cooked)||1 cup||74|
|Peanut butter||2 tbsp.||18|
Lysine To Increase Calcium Absorption
Lysine is an amino acid that helps in the absorption of calcium. Lysine a protein building block, can increase the amount of calcium absorbed into the matrix according to Peter Furst, M.D.,PhD. in the Jan./Feb. 1993, Nutrition (9: 70-2). It is an essential amino acid necessary for the regeneration of tissues, and the building and healing of broken bones. Research studies show that lysine can increase the amount of calcium absorbed into the bone matrix. The amount in one particular study was 800 mg. As lysine promotes the formation of muscle protein, it may be important in healing after operations and injuries. There are a number of foods that can add lysine to your diet, such as low fat milk, fish, yeast, and soy products. I find that defatted soy flour is the best source of Lysine because there are 3300mg of lysine in 3 1/2 ounces of defatted soy flour. This is an important reason to use defatted soy flour in the foods you eat. In my latest book I have many recipes using defatted soy flour.
Vitamin C As A Bone Healer
Vitamin C is essential nutritionally to make the collagen that helps the body form healthy bones. It also promotes wound healing. You also can get numerous additional benefits from Vitamin C. For example, researchers at New Mexico Medical School found that adults with high blood levels of vitamin C scored higher on mental tasks than those with low levels of vitamin C. Many of my recipes are high in vitamin C.
Aspirin And Anti-Inflammatory Drugs Can Retard Bone Healing
When you break a bone or tear a muscle and are on pain medication, you may want to try to stop taking the pain medication as soon as possible so you do not delay healing. A study in May 1995 issue of The Journal of Orthopedic Trauma shows damaged cells in a fracture release large amount of chemicals called prostaglandins. These chemicals cause the pain and are blocked by the pain medication. However prostaglandins are also very important in the first stage of tissue repair. So decreasing the use as soon as possible is helpful to the healing process.
Furthermore a study in the October 1995 issue of the Journal of Rheumatology found that continued use of anti-inflammatory drugs over several months can increase the rate of cartilaginous breakdown in joints of people who have osteoarthritis. The drugs mentioned in the studies include Aspirin, Anaprox, Lodine, Meclomin, Motrin, Naprosin, Pensile, Relafen, Toreador, Tolectin, Indocin and Ibuprofen.
Vitamin K To Promote Bone Healing
Vitamin K, also called Menadione, is a very important fat-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in the regulation of normal blood clotting functions. We get vitamin K from several sources in our diet including dark leafy vegetables. Vitamin K also assists in converting glucose into glycogen for storage in the liver. Numerous studies indicate that it plays a role in forming bone formation and preventing osteoporosis. If you want to help bones heal faster, consider increasing your intake of Vitamin K rich foods. I have numerous recipes for these in my books.
Smoking Slows The Healing Of Broken Bones
Many studies have shown that broken bones tend to take longer to heal if the injured person has been smoking. Cigarettes can also increase the risk of blood clotting, which may further reduce blood flow. Breakdown products of cigarette smoke include carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, nitrosamines and benzenes which can damage the cells that form the bone itself and can interrupt the healing process after a fracture or bone injury. [Hadley MN et al. Smoking and the Human Vertebral Column: A Review of the Impact of Cigarette Use on Vertebral Bone Metabolism and Spinal Fusion. Neurosurgery (1997); vol. 41, pp. 116-122].
Boron's Role In Bone Healing
Boron is important in bone healing because studies how show it reduces urinary excretion of calcium and magnesium and significantly increases blood levels of both estrogen and testosterone. The are many food high in boron. Apples are the highest. You will find many recipes in my books that use apples and other high boron foods.
Avoid bone robbers
To maximize the rate of healing it is helpful to avoid bone robbers such as sugar, salt, alcohol, caffeine, red meats etc. See detail descriptions in the osteoporosis sections of my books
Role of silica and zinc
Both silica and zinc are important for the repair of tissues. Silica is also important also in helping the calcium to be absorbed. Ensuring that these are in you diet is a another way to potentially decrease the time it takes to heal from a fracture
Simple comfort tips
If you are in a wheel chair or bed, be sure to get the convoluted mattress pad for your bed and wheel chair. If you have a leg cast or brace, consider using side zippered ski pants for easy on and off of your pants.
If you have bruised a muscle in your break, and need some pain relief, be sure to explore the use of the T.E.N.S unit. You can try it out at most physical therapy sessions. If it works for you, you can get your doctor to give you a prescription for it and in many cases your health insurance will pay for the cost rental or purchase. You can also just purchase it yourself for as low as $99-$150 U.S on the web.
I have personally used the T.E.N.S in my last fall, and it was a life saver. It gave me the pain relief I needed to be able to do the exercises to heal my bruised muscle. Be sure when you use it, not to overuse it. Just use it so you can get the relief you need to be able to to the physical therapy you need for a permanent solution.
Be sure to also visit Foods that speed healing of Broken Bones as a guide to specific foods suggested by the research.
Links to research on the web.
There are many very valuable sources of information on fractures on the web. One of my favorites is
It is the web site for the Journal of Prosthetics and Orthotics and its source of research articles is excellent.
Best of luck for a fast recovery! I personally know what it is like to suffer broken bones, and how important a fast recovery is.