Bone fractures are very serious to our health as we age. More than you may think. Consider that the 6-month mortality rate from hip fractures and the complications that result is 13.5%! (1)
By year 2 the mortality rate from fractures rises to 20%!
Fractures are more likely to happen later in life (due to thinning bones) – exactly at a stage when staying active is so critical. And sadly, while trying to heal from a fracture, our bones continue to thin at an accelerated pace due to the sudden inactivity – beginning an unfortunate downward spiral.
Normally all the doctor advises us is to stay off the injured limb. But the good news is you can speed up the healing process and get back on track sooner by following these tips:
Increase Blood Flow
The more blood that reaches the bone, the better for healing. So things like smoking, which diminishes blood flow, will definitely slow the healing process.
Increase Calorie Intake
Studies show that as much as 3x your normal intake of calories will help to speed up recovery. (2)
Your metabolism is essentially working overtime in repairing bone, so rather than a typical caloric intake of 2500 per day, you may benefit from as much as 6000 calories per day to speed recovery. Giving you a perfect, scientifically backed excuse to chow down on your favorite healthy treats and snacks.
Increase Protein Intake
Because bone is approximately half protein by volume, it is very important to speed up fracture repair.
Protein helps make up the scaffolding of our bones, and is what crucial minerals like calcium attaches to. Today’s science shows that even increasing your protein intake by as little as 20 grams per day can reduce fracture healing time.
Notorious free radicals, that have been implicated as a main culprit of aging, also negatively affect bone healing. But antioxidants keep the oxidizing effect of free radicals in check, and have been proven to improve fracture healing time in animal studies. (4)
Foods with the high antioxidant content include artichokes, spinach, red cabbage, red and white potatoes (with peel), sweet potatoes and broccoli, avocados, cherries, green and red pears, fresh or dried plums, pineapple, kiwi and others.
Berries, green tea and nuts are also good sources and can all contribute to a faster bone healing time.
Increase Mineral Intake
If you’re like most you probably are deficient in essential minerals in your diet.
They are so important, and especially so if you’ve suffered a fracture. Because about 70% of the weight of our bones is due to the minerals. (6) And contrary to what we learned growing up, the bones aren’t only made of calcium, but many other trace minerals such as vanadium, manganese, silica.
All these minerals are found in your bones, so to reduce your healing time, it’s crucial to have ample amounts in your diet.
If you can stick to an all organic diet with lots of calcium rich foods, fresh vegetables, fruits and lean meats you will likely get all the minerals you need for fastest healing.
However, today’s more typical western diet consists of mineral deficient foods, due to mass production. If that more closely describes what you eat, then that’s where supplements come in.
A good multi-mineral and calcium supplement will ensure that you aren’t shortchanging your bones of the building blocks they need.
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1. Hannan EL, Magaziner J, Wang JJ, et al. (2001). “Mortality and locomotion 6 months after hospitalization for hip fracture: risk factors and risk-adjusted hospital outcomes”. JAMA 285 (21): 2736–42. doi:10.1001/jama.285.21.2736. PMID 11386929.
2. Smith, TK. 1987. Prevention of complications in orthopedic surgery secondary to nutritional depletion. Clin Ortho and Related Research, 222:91-97.
3. Koval, KJ, Maurer, SG, Su, ET, Aharonoff, GB, and Zuckerman, JD. 1999. The effects of nutritional status on outcome after hip fracture, J Ortho Trauma, 13(3):164-169; New, SA. 2002. The role of the skeleton in acid-base homeostasis.
4. Copp, DH and Greenberg, DM. 1945. Studies on bone fracture healing. I. Effect of vitamins A and D, Jr of Nutr, 29(4):261-267; Steier, A, Gedalia, I, Schwarz, A, and Rodan, A. 1967. Effect of vitamin D2 and fluoride on experimental bone fracture healing in rats, J Dent Res, 46(4):675-680.
5. Gigante, A, Torcianti, M, Boldrini, E, Manzotti, S, Falcone, G, Greco, F, and Mattioli-Belmonte, M. 2008. Vitamin K and D association stimulates in vitro osteoblast differentiation of fracture site derived human mesenchymal stem cells, J Biol Regul Homeost Agents, 22(1):35-44.