Getting your "A" Game Back with Nutrition after Illness or Injury
If you are recovering from an illness or injury that has sidelined you from your favorite exercise, your best bet for nutritional healing is to meet with a sports nutritionist or registered dietitian. A nutritional expert can determine the best course of action based on your individual needs.
The American Dietetic Association highlights the following nutrients as having roles in the healing process:
- Zinc: Zinc is an essential mineral that boosts your immune system. It helps to inhibit the activity of certain viruses. It also plays a role in protein synthesis and cell development; therefore, it aids in the healing process of wounds. Daily requirements for zinc are dependent upon age and gender. In general adult women and men should consume approximately 8 mg and 11 mg per day, respectively. Pregnant or lactating women need intakes around 11 to 12 mg daily. Intake levels should not exceed 40 mg per day. Red meat, oysters, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds, pecans and ginger root are some food sources of zinc.
- Vitamin A: Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. It promotes the development of healthy skin and tissues that form the linings of the eyes and the respiratory, intestinal and urinary tracts. When these tissues are weakened, infection is more likely because bacteria can enter the body through the broken down areas. It is recommended that adult women consume 2,310 IU (International Units) and men consume 3,000 IU of Vitamin A. Some food sources of vitamin A include liver, fortified milk, carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and is an antioxidant. It aids in fighting against infection. According to the American Dietetic Association, vitamin C may have an antihistamine effect which can alleviate symptoms associated with a cold and decrease the number of days the illness lasts. Vitamin C also helps to form collagen, which helps to heal wounds and injuries to the ligaments and tendons. Adult women and men should consume approximately 75 mg and 90 mg of vitamin C per day, respectively. In addition to oranges, vitamin C can be found in red bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, strawberries and cabbage.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an antioxidant. It enhances the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties. Both adult men and women need to consume approximately 22.4 IU of vitamin E. Excessive intake of vitamin E can interfere with certain medications and can increase the risk for bleeding. Vitamin E can be found in almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, and wheat germ oil. Other food sources include tomatoes, spinach and broccoli.
The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods; Michael Murray, R.D.; 2005
The American Dietetic Association complete Food and Nutrition Guide; Roberta Larson Duyff; 2006
The American Dietetic Association
NIH Office of Dietary Supplements