9 Essential Foods To Heal Broken Bones Faster

Foods that Accelerate Bone fracture recovery

Foods that Accelerate Bone fracture recovery

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Foods That Heal Broken Bones

If you've broken a bone, eat a high-calorie diet rich in calcium and protein – like milk and meat – the building blocks for the bone. Eat citrus fruits to reduce inflammation and vitamin D foods like eggs and fatty fish to absorb calcium better. Eat fruits like apricot and prunes for potassium, oysters for zinc, and red meat for iron, all of which speed healing. Skip alcohol and coffee till you recover fully.

A broken bone or even a hairline fracture can cause untold misery in the form of throbbing pain. Plenty of rest and medication are required to heal and bond the fracture. While your age, existing health condition, and the type of fracture all determine the speed of healing, proper nutrition has been seen to hasten bone healing. This is because the primary structure of a bone is made up of rods of collagen, a protein, surrounded by the minerals calcium and phosphorous – the minerals give the bones strength, while the collagen rods provide resiliency. And we get these nutrients through food. Here’s a look at the foods needed to heal a broken bone faster.

1. Calcium: Milk And Yogurt

In the second phase of bone healing, the reparative phase, you need calcium and phosphorus so that the bone may grow from each of the fracture ends. The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends upping your calcium intake first and foremost to build strong dense bones. Foods that are rich sources of calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese, and green vegetables like kale and spinach. Fortified foods such as soy milk, breads, and cereals also contain some added calcium.

It is essential that when you consume beverages rich in calcium, the bottle or container needs to be shaken well as calcium tends to settle down at the bottom. When the body’s calcium absorbing tendency is low, you can also consume calcium supplements.1

Remember: Less Phosphorus Than Calcium

While it is also important to have phosphorus-rich foods like meat or dairy, a delicate calcium-phosphorus balance needs to be maintained to ensure bone health. More phosphorus than calcium often results in calcium being leached from the bones, leaving them brittle.2

2. Vitamin C: Citrus Fruits

Vitamin C helps in the formation of collagen, and high doses of vitamin C have been seen to speed up bone healing.3

It has another role too. Right after your bone breaks, your immune system causes inflammation. This inflammatory phase has harmful byproducts called free radicals which damage cells and worsen the inflammation. As it is a potent antioxidant, vitamin C can fight these free radicals effectively, reducing inflammation.4

The richest sources of vitamin C are of course citrus fruits like lemon, oranges, kiwi, berries, and green vegetables.

3. Vitamin D: Mackerel And Tuna

Vitamin D is an important component for bone health as it helps in the absorption of calcium. While sunlight is the most important source of vitamin D, foods such as mackerel, salmon, and tuna are good sources. A large egg makes up for about 10% of the daily required intake of vitamin D. Calcium supplements are also good sources of vitamin D.5 These fish also have omega-3 fats that are good for bones.

4. Vitamin K: Leafy Greens

Results from 2 large, prospective cohort studies support an association between vitamin K intake and relative risk of hip fracture – those consuming highest amount of vitamin K had the lowest risk of hip fractures.6 Leafy vegetables like kale and cabbage are a great source of vitamin K, and they also come with a lot of antioxidative plant nutrients.

5. Potassium: Apricots And Prunes

A 2015 study has found that the salts of potassium (bicarbonates and citrates) that are found in fruits and vegetables are essential for bone health. Potassium prevents bone resorption, a process by which bone breaks down and the minerals are released back into the blood for circulation.7 Though this is a natural process, people with osteoporosis have higher rates of bone resorption than formation. The top dietary sources of potassium include apricots, prunes, tuna, soybean, and avocado.

6. Magnesium: Quinoa And Rice Bran

Magnesium helps in the formation of bones. About 50–60% of the magnesium in your body is found in your bones.8 Eat foods like quinoa, rice bran, spinach, almonds, cashew nuts, and pumpkin seeds for magnesium.

7. Iron: Red Meat And Spinach

Iron is essential for collagen formation. It is also essential for improving the hemoglobin content of blood so that the fractured bones get enough oxygen for healing. This is fractures can take longer to heal with iron-deficiency anemia. Include enough red meat and poultry in your diet for the heme iron and plant sources like spinach for non-heme iron. Adding vitamin C to your diet will also ensure that the iron is adequately absorbed.9

8. Zinc: Oysters And Crabs

Zinc, a trace mineral, is also essential for bone health. In fact, lack of zinc leads to bone growth retardation. As this mineral stimulates the function of osteoblasts (bone-forming cells) and the mineralization of bones, it is essential for the repair of fractured bone.10 Oysters are a very rich source of zinc, followed by crab, lobsters, chicken, and yogurt.11

9. Protein: Lean Meat

Dietary protein is essential for bone healing since collagen is itself a protein. A study found that protein deficiency during the bone healing affects the formation of bone tissue.12 Protein helps absorb dietary calcium into bones and also helps in the release of growth factors which help bone renewal.13 The top sources of protein include lean meat, fish, soy, milk, and nuts.

Make Sure To Eat A High-Calorie Diet

Your body needs a lot of energy to repair your broken bone. This energy will come from a high-calorie diet consisting of fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, meat, fish, milk, and milk products. It should not, however, include refined foods or foods that increase acidity in the body.

Follow An Ayurvedic Pitta-Pacifying Diet

Ayurveda holds that a high amount of pitta in the body leads to reduction in structural strength. One of the seminal Ayurvedic texts, the Charaka Samhita, recommends a pitta-pacifying diet:

  • Eat sweet, bitter, and astringent foods that cool the system: these foods are nourishing, vitalizing, saturating, bulk-promoting, stabilizing, compressing, healing, and absorbing in nature.
  • Avoid pungent, sour and salty foods: these foods are mass-breaking, space-creating and remove stiffness, binding, and compactness.

Don’t Eat These Foods To Heal Bones

  • Alcohol: Chronic drinking causes serious health problems such as pancreatitis, liver disease, heart problems, cancer, and osteoporosis. Alcohol interferes with calcium balance by increasing the parathyroid hormone which causes reduction in calcium reserves.14 15
  • Too much salt: While salt intake is required for healthy functioning of the body, excess consumption of dietary salt can cause weakening of bones.
  • Caffeine: Drinking more than 3 cups of coffee per day may interfere with calcium absorption in the body and may cause bone weakening.

References   [ + ]

1.Food and Your Bones. National Osteoporosis Foundation.[ref]

According to a study, children who don’t drink cow’s milk are at an increased risk for bone fractures before puberty.[ref]Black, Ruth E., Sheila M. Williams, Ianthe E. Jones, and Ailsa Goulding. “Children who avoid drinking cow milk have low dietary calcium intakes and poor bone health.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 76, no. 3 (2002): 675-680.

2.Phosphorus. University of Maryland Medical Center.
3.Yilmaz, Cengiz, Esra Erdemli, Hakan Selek, Hakan Kinik, Murat Arikan, and Bülent Erdemli. “The contribution of vitamin C to healing of experimental fractures.” Archives of orthopaedic and trauma surgery 121, no. 7 (2001): 426-428.
4.Alcantara-Martos, T., A. D. Delgado-Martinez, M. V. Vega, M. T. Carrascal, and L. Munuera-Martinez. “Effect of vitamin C on fracture healing in elderly Osteogenic Disorder Shionogi rats.” Bone & Joint Journal 89, no. 3 (2007): 402-407.
5.Food and Your Bones. National Osteoporosis Foundation.
6.Craig, Winston J. “Health effects of vegan diets.”The American journal of clinical nutrition 89.5 (2009): 1627S-1633S.
7.Lambert, Helen, L. Frassetto, J. B. Moore, D. Torgerson, R. Gannon, P. Burckhardt, and S. Lanham-New. “The effect of supplementation with alkaline potassium salts on bone metabolism: a meta-analysis.” Osteoporosis International 26, no. 4 (2015): 1311-1318.
8.Magnesium. NIH.
9, 13.Essential Nutrients to Aid Fracture Repair. The American Society of Orthopedic Professionals.
10.Yamaguchi, Masayoshi. “Role of nutritional zinc in the prevention of osteoporosis.” Molecular and cellular biochemistry 338, no. 1-2 (2010): 241-254.
11.Zinc. NIH.
12.Guarniero, Roberto, Filho TE de Barros, Uenis Tannuri, Consuelo Junqueira Rodrigues, and J. D. Rossi. “Study of fracture healing in protein malnutrition.” Revista paulista de medicina 110, no. 2 (1992): 63-68.
14.The American journal of clinical nutrition 76.3 (2002): 675-680.
15.What People Recovering from Alcoholism Need to Know About Osteoporosis. NIH Osteoporosis and Related Bone Diseases, April 2015.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

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