Right after I was injured, one of the first things I looked up were supplements to help with healing. There are a few studies – I found one with mice and Bromelain that’s cited often, and Vitamin C supposedly helps with collagen production and may be useful to help heal the incision after surgery. Beyond that, it’s mostly anecdotal. After hearing that a friend of mine whose father is a doctor takes supplements on the off chance that they might work, I thought why not give some a try? And the placebo effect may be worth it on its own.
I’m too lazy to provide much detail here, but if you’re looking into supplements, I’d research these:
- Vitamin C – I would bet this one has the most studies. 1000-2000 mg a day, after surgery. Get one with bioflavonoids. May help, most likely not to hurt (except for an upset stomach).
- Bromelain – Supposed to help with inflammation and tenocyte population in mice with crushed Achilles. I actually a found a study for this one.
- ZMA (Zinc and Magnesium Aspartate) – I take this for weightlifting and this one has a strong effect on me. I’m not sure if it helps with healing or muscle development, but I sleep so much better when I take it.
- Super Cissus – I’ve read rave reviews from a few bodybuilders in forums. I haven’t tried it.
- Collagen + C
- Vitamin D – Living in Seattle, I probably need this anyway, so I take this one. Recommended for wound healing.
- Glutamine – Might help with the immune system.
- Vitamin E
- Turmeric – Anti-inflammatory
- Fish oil – Anti-inflammatory
- Gelatin – This is a really tempting one that I’d never heard of until this injury. Collagen is key to tendon healing, and gelatin is great source. Does taking gelatin have a positive impact? Unfortunately no studies… But who needs studies to try something out? I’m trying the Great Lakes Gelatin, Collagen Hydrolysate.
- MSM – Started Week 7 thinking it might help with collagen but also for sore knee on the “good” leg.
In the first dreadful week after surgery, I was considering taking all of these. But then I realized that while it’s likely that few, if any, of these help, I became more concerned that something might lengthen my recovery or impair the healing, particularly during the initial inflammatory period. That thought alone has kept me mostly limited to Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and fish oil, though I occasionally try some of the others, just not regularly. I’ve added hydrolized gelatin to my diet, but in small amounts.
Since I’m nervous about the supplements, I’ve focused instead on foods that might help with healing.
- Bone broths – all the rage this year among the paleo types. I haven’t made my own, but I spent the first week after my surgery eating Korean galbitang almost every day. I lived in Korea for several years and galbitang is a huge comfort food for me. If I have an excuse to eat it more often, all the better! This site has an easy recipe for a bone broth. I’m thinking samgyetang (a Korean chicken soup) and Pho would also be great.
- Smoothies – I’m a big green smoothie fan. They’re packed with nutrients, easy to make, and I feel great after drinking one. I bought a Vitamix last year and lost 30 pounds in one year replacing one meal a day with a smoothie. Usually I use some combination of these ingredients (it’s not as disgusting as it may sound):
- Most of the time
- Granny Smith Apple
- Red Cabbage
- Depending on mood (a few, not all, of the following)
- Hemp seeds
- Chia seeds
- Wheat Germ
- Cocoa powder
- Goji berries
- Camu Camu powder
- Maqui powder
- Maca powder
- Matcha green tea powder
- Most of the time
Let me know if you have a supplement to add to the list.