Vitamins and minerals are very important for overall health, either you’re getting them through food, or in over the counter supplements. But, does this impact how a bedsore wound heals? Yes, it might, and sometimes the role of nutrition in wound care is overlooked. Chronic bedsores or pressure ulcers are commonly seen in patients that are malnourished and lacking adequate protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Wound care is important for proper healing, not only for the wound but for the recovery of the overlying skin to help prevent infection and ultimately scarring. But, what does it take for your body to heal itself? Are you taking in the necessary vitamins, eating enough protein, as well as taking good care of your wound? Let’s find out.
First, let us talk about top-ranked products recommended by wound care specialists, physicians, and pharmacists. Many products out there, like WoundVite and others, may contain the vitamins I am about to discuss and they are convenient and easy to swallow. So keep that in mind when you are reading, have an open mind, and learn how each vitamin works in your body and how it can also help heal your skin.
Zinc is called a trace element, meaning that we can find it all around our body inside the cells, but is pretty small amounts. It is also called a micronutrient that helps our immune system and metabolic functions, because, as we will talk more about, it can contribute to wound healing, and also with your proper sense of taste and smell. Zinc can be acquired from the diet, in meats, and fortified cereals. Zinc can have many uses or effects in the body, one of which is wound healing, especially in those who have skin ulcers.
How does zinc work?
- Zinc helps in cell formation and growth.
- Essential in tissue maintenance.
- Zinc is absorbed in the duodenum (initial part of the small intestine starting from the stomach, this is on the right side of your body) and proximal jejunum (the small intestine to the left of your body), and taken into enterocytes, which are the cells of the small intestines, by transporters or vehicles that transport them within the intestine.
- Citric acid is another component that is necessary for the proper absorption of zinc, as it enhances its absorption.
- Keratinocytes (skin cells) formation is enhanced with zinc, due to a gene expression called MT, on the borders of the wound. Macrophages and dermal fibroblasts (cells that appear in an inflammatory situation like wounds), appear to help in the repair as further increase levels of zinc are detected.
- The wound starts to heal and a potential scar appears as cell division reduces, and zinc levels start to decrease at that point again.
Zinc can be beneficial as it is an essential part of the stages of wound healing. But, zinc can also be dangerous if taken in high doses long term as it can affect another element in your body called copper and cause deficiency and neurological problems. Too much of a good thing can also be bad, so always stay within the supplementation limits on the package or recommended by your doctor.
#2 Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a very common vitamin related to increasing the immune system when you want to lessen a cold or infection and part of this comes from it being an antioxidant. But, the essential job of vitamin C in wound healing is in the synthesis of collagen and the buildup of new tissue. Vitamin C also helps in the absorption of iron which is essential for oxygenation to the area of the wound for proper healing.
It should be noted that vitamin C can interact with medication for chemo, warfarin, estrogens, and others, and high doses can cause diarrhea, so, call your doctor to make sure vitamin C supplementation is ok for you. You can instead opt to acquire vitamin C from foods like oranges, red peppers, broccoli, strawberries, kiwi, kale, and many other food sources. Recommended doses daily for vitamin C are 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women.
How does vitamin C work?
- Vitamin C is water-soluble so it can easily be transported through the blood in your veins and arteries.
- Vitamin C has to be taken or eaten regularly since it is not stored in your body.
- Vitamin C enhances neutrophil migration and lymphocyte activation, which are cells that help in the controlling of infections, and help clear away unwanted substances from the area of the wound.
- Enhancement of the absorption of iron also helps in the building of new tissue by proper oxygenation and proper healing of the tissue as they continue to work on promoting collagen buildup and skin restoration.
As to much of something can cause harm, too little of something can also cause harm. Vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy, a disease with symptoms like bleeding gums, hemorrhaging, etc. This can be reversed by the consumption of vitamin C 100mg supplement daily or the increased intake of fruits and vegetables.
Bromelain is an anti-inflammatory enzyme that helps in reducing muscle and tissue swelling.
Interestingly, bromelain is commonly found in pineapple juice and the pineapple stem.
How does bromelain work?
- Bromelain comes from a plant Ananas comosus, the pineapple plant, so it’s not endogenous, or part of what your body naturally produces.
- It is an anti-inflammatory enzyme, so it may affect some platelet aggregation or clotting. So, if you are taking something to thin your blood, check with your doctor before taking a supplement with bromelain.
- Helps in blood flow and oxygenation in wound tissue and controls further skin death, which all is necessary as part of the inflammatory process and also reducing pain.
Arginine, an amino acid, has a role in wound healing as well. It helps the body make protein and it can be acquired in meats, fish, and dairy products. From arginine, you form nitric oxide, an essential component in the inflammatory process for wound healing.
How does arginine work?
- Opening up blood vessels and increasing blood flow.
- Helping in the new skin strength and collagen deposition.
Arginine is an amino acid produced by the body, but when high stress is present due to injury, it can require higher amounts. Arginine is produced in the kidneys and liver.
Glutamine, like arginine, is an amino acid, and it’s also essential for wound healing. These are amino acids that are part of our body, meaning endogenous, and they can help in the reconstruction of our injured skin in different ways.
How does glutamine work?
- One role that glutamine plays in decreasing infections and low production of heat shock proteins, which are a response that the body produces when it’s under stress due to injury.
- Glutamine also serves as an energy source to stabilize cell membranes and further help in the wound healing process.
- Glutamine is produced by the muscles and helps deliver blood to those organs that need it.
- As your body is affected by stress, glutamine helps maintain gut health and your immune health in check.
- Consult with medical professionals to discuss the vitamins you are taking to assess possible interactions, so necessary adjustments can be made if needed.
- Many of these vitamins discussed today work together in promoting fast wound healing and overall proper skin health.
- Zinc has a role in DNA protein synthesis and cell division.
- Vitamin C is helping in the collagen buildup and fighting infection.
- Bromelain has pain and inflammation factors.
- Arginine increases blood flow to the area by opening the blood vessels.
- Glutamine is produced in the muscles; it is an energy source and gives blood to those organs that need it and to help in cell membrane stability.
- Do your research and talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the benefits of supplementation while trying to heal a wound.