How to speed up wound healing using top dietitian-recommended nutrients

  • 2 Minutes Read
Brenda Braslow
Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

If you want a fighting advantage to speed wound healing, look to healthy nutrition. The right balanced meal could be just what the doctor ordered.

How to speed wound healing

Learn how to speed wound healing through optimal nutrition

Healing improves from well-nourished cells offered by good nutrition. Some of the big-player nutrients involved in tissue repair and the decreased risk of infection include protein, zinc, vitamins A and C.

Recently, I had a bicycle accident, where I catapulted over my bike, like a poorly executed cartwheel. This stunt left me with stitches, cuts, road rash, and multiple large bruises. Healing takes time and benefits from rest, good hygiene, salve, and yes, good nutrition. Read on to learn how to nourish cells using good nutrition to speed wound healing.

Protein needs increase during injury

One of the big three primary nutrients, protein is found in every single body cell. The Greek word for this nutrient, proteos, means "taking first place." The body uses amino acids from dietary protein to make its own protein and molecules for life-sustaining functions. Enzymes, hormones, bones, teeth, skin, and blood vessels are all protein-based. Your body requires adequate, not excessive, protein daily because it does not store protein the same way it keeps fat or carbohydrates. If calorie intake declines, the body will use protein for energy instead of for growth and repair of body tissue.

When the body is injured, hormonal changes cause the body to use more protein than is produced. In simple terms, adequate dietary protein is essential for healing. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Ideally, include a variety of foods with protein so you can give your body the right balance of amino acids.

Food sources of protein include beef, pork, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, tofu, beans, nuts, seeds, and quinoa.

The RDA for protein for adult men and women is .8 grams protein/kg body weight. To determine your daily protein need, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to get your body weight in kg. For example, a 140-pound woman weighs 63.6 kg and needs about 50 grams of protein per day. During injury, your protein needs increase to 1.0-1.2 grams protein/kg body weight. A 140-pound woman would then need about 64-77 grams of protein daily. Take a look at your MyNetDiary daily protein tracking totals to see how your consumption adds up.

Vitamins that promote wound healing


Zinc is another big player required for tissue growth and repair. This mineral plays a vital role in at least 70 enzyme systems in the body. Essential for protein digestion, zinc plays a role in cell growth and replication, bone formation, and skin integrity.

Food sources of zinc include beef, organ meats, seafood, poultry, pork, dairy products, whole grains, and vegetables.

The RDA for zinc is 11 mg/day for adult men and 8 mg /day for adult women. Check out your daily zinc intake in your MyNetDiary records to see if you are meeting the RDA.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is one of the nutrients that promote wound healing. Vitamin A helps with healing by stimulating skin cell growth and promoting bone health. Vitamin A metabolism is closely tied to protein and zinc because the transport of vitamin A relies on protein and zinc.

Food sources of Vitamin A include dark green, leafy vegetables, orange or yellow vegetables, cantaloupe, fortified dairy products, liver, and fortified cereals.

The RDA for vitamin A is 900 mcg RAE/day for adult men and 700 mcg/day for adult women. Are you getting enough vitamin A? Look at your MyNetDiary food record. Keep in mind that you can get too much vitamin A if taken in supplemental form. The tolerable upper limit (TUL) for vitamin A is 3000 mcg RAE/day.

Vitamin C

Also known as ascorbic acid or ascorbate, Vitamin C promotes wound healing. Your body lacks the enzyme necessary to make its own vitamin C so you need to consume it regularly. Vitamin C is necessary for collagen synthesis. Collagen is the structural protein found in skin, bones, tendons, and cartilage. The scar tissue responsible for wound healing requires vitamin C.

Food sources of vitamin C include asparagus, papaya, oranges, cantaloupe, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, peppers, kale, lemons, and strawberries.

The RDA for vitamin C is 90 mg per day for adult men and 75 mg per day for adult women. Should you check how much vitamin C you get daily?

I hope you don't suffer any injuries, but in case you do, get plenty of rest, nurse your injuries, and review how to speed your wound healing through a healthy diet. Good nutrition can give you a fighting chance to speed wound healing.

Additional reading on nutrition for healing

Calorie and protein requirements for healing after orthopedic surgery

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Exercise->Injury Recovery
May 14, 2021
Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.

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