When we suffer a fracture, our bones react to the trauma: they synthesize new cells, receive more blood and slowly repair themselves. Thanks to this process, most fractures heal within six weeks.
Some bones, however, are poorly vascularized and require longer recovery times (for example, fracture of the femoral neck or tibia).
To facilitate this healing process, in addition to immobilization and any surgery, it is very important to follow an appropriate diet.For further information: Diet and Osteoporosis
Diet and Fractures
The healing time from a fracture is influenced by the actual availability of all those nutrients necessary to repair the injured bone.
- CALCIUM: together with vitamin D it is essential for bone health and for the prevention of osteoporosis. It is found mainly in dairy products and blue fish. Some vegetables are also rich in calcium but in a less absorbable form by the body.
Other vegetables, such as spinach and beets, significantly reduce the intestinal absorption of this precious mineral; therefore, they should be limited in diets for recovery from bone fractures.
- ALCOHOL, SODIUM AND CAFFEINE: reduce the absorption of calcium and facilitate its elimination; their consumption must therefore be reduced when healing from a fracture.
- VITAMIN D: facilitates intestinal absorption of calcium. It is produced by the skin thanks to the action of the sun's rays. Calciferol deficiencies are rare and are found mostly in the elderly during the winter months. To increase the levels of this vitamin in the diet it is important to consume the right amounts of eggs, salmon, butter and milk.
- PHOSPHORUS: essential for bone and dental mineralization. Deficiencies rarely occur, as this mineral is found in most foods of animal and plant origin.
- VITAMIN A: plays an important role in protein synthesis and in the formation of bones and skeleton; it is also a powerful natural antioxidant. It is found mainly in foods of animal origin such as meats, offal, some fish, eggs, milk, cheeses, butter and, in the form of precursors (carotenoids) in yellow and red fruits and vegetables.
- VITAMIN C: it is very important for the synthesis of collagen, a fibrous protein necessary for the repair of fractures (collagen forms the connective tissue necessary for the constitution not only of bones but also of tendons, teeth, ligaments and cartilages). Like vitamin A, vitamin C is also contained in fruit and vegetables (especially citrus fruits, kiwis, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes and peppers). On the other hand, it is absent in foods of animal origin (except for some offal).
- VITAMIN K: intervenes in the synthesis of some proteins essential for bone metabolism. Numerous recent studies attribute this vitamin to an important role in the prevention of osteoporosis. However, vitamin K deficiency is very rare, both because it is widely distributed in food, and because the body is able to regulate its synthesis and elimination very well.
- VITAMIN B12: together with folic acid, copper and iron increases the production of red blood cells in the bone marrow; it is therefore essential in the early stages of recovery after fracture reduction surgery.
- ZINC: facilitates wound healing and reduces healing times. Food sources: eggs, lettuce, beans, spinach (contraindicated because they are rich in oxalate), peas, shellfish, brewer's yeast, barley, oats and peanuts.
- COPPER: contributes, together with vitamin C, to the formation of collagen.
What to eat
- To facilitate bone repair following a fracture, it is therefore important to adopt a diet rich in fruit and vegetables.
The only exception should be made for foods rich in oxalates (cocoa, red beets, spinach, parsley, peanuts, rhubarb and tea) which should be consumed in moderation.
- It is also important to take foods rich in calcium such as dairy products, preferring those with a reduced fat content (totally or partially skimmed milk and yogurt, ricotta, mozzarella, certosino, robiola, crescenza and cottage cheese).
- Finally, it is important not to overdo it with tea, coffee, alcohol and cooking salt (bearing in mind that many packaged foods such as salty snacks contain important quantities).