What are the best vitamins for ligament repair?
Find out what to eat for a ligament injury and make sure you get the best vitamins for ligament repair. The right diet will heal ligaments and tendons faster.
Discovering the best vitamins for ligament repair because I’m in a moon boot! The physio says I can’t move my foot for at least 4 weeks… So I’m stuck with the boot. A result of a torn a ligament in my ankle. A full-thickness tear of the spring ligament (the one that gives you the spring in your step). The problem is, I’ve got a big snowboard trip to Japan in 4 weeks. Nipple deep powder, daily face shots and a probable tomahawk or two where I go tits-over-arse through the Japanese trees…Mmmmm! Yes. I have to repair this foot quick sharp or I can pretty much kiss Japan goodbye.
This injury really messed me up. Something I wrote about in: Losing My Identity – How injury forced me to question who I was
Vitamins for ligament repair and other tendon or muscle damage
When you get injured you are blessed with heaps of time. In my case, time sitting down. Although it’s frustrating, it often presents an opportunity to learn and reassess a few things in your life. I took this opportunity to look at my diet and how the foods I am eating can help speed my recovery. Vitamins and minerals are vital to maintaining good health but when you are injured. When you are injured, they are even more important for ligament repair and to heal those tendons and ligaments faster. You can definitely get all the vitamins needed for fast ligament healing from a healthy diet but there are also many great supplements on the market to boost your intake. Have a read of this article if you are interested in what vitamins and supplements the pro athletes take for recovery.
What are the key vitamins to heal ligaments and tendons faster?
Zinc is essential for the maintenance of good health and is one of the most abundant trace minerals in the body. Every single tissue contains zinc, so your body needs it to heal and repair. The main way that it helps heal torn ligaments is by supporting the metabolism of proteins which your body needs to rebuild the injured area.
Other benefits of zinc for torn ligaments include:
- Plays a key role in the maintenance and functioning of a healthy immune system
- Reduction of inflammation
- Healthy skin function and minor wound healing
- Essential for male reproductive health and important for female reproductive health
Zinc can be found in oysters, seeds, chicken, lentils, kidney beans, fortified cereals, whole grain bread, nuts, beef, low-fat yogurt, and eggs.
Recommended zinc supplements?
Many athletes including myself, are huge fans of Metagenics. They make high-quality supplements that are non-GMO, gluten-free, and vegetarian. Other great Zinc supplements are Now Zinc and Natures Potent, high-potency zinc supplements.
Our ligaments are made of collagen. Vitamin C – also known as ascorbic acid, is a key vitamin for ligament repair and collagen production. It is recommended to increase your intake of vitamin C immediately after an injury to help support the healing process as it directly assists in wound healing and tissue repair. Vitamin C also increased the absorption of iron. Doctors will often prescribe vitamin C supplements with iron supplements for this reason (iron is one of the minerals for ligament repair recommended below). Your body can not produce vitamin C as it is water-soluble so you need to get it from your food, or from supplements.
Other benefits of vitamin C for torn ligaments include:
- Reduce inflammation
- Increase the absorption of iron
- Speed up the recovery process
- Help maintain cartilage and bone tissues
- Internal protection against free radicals
- Supports the immune system
Foods full of vitamin C include citrus fruits, berries, kiwi, red bell peppers or capsicums, kale, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli.
Recommended Vitamin C supplements?
Look no further than natural Camu Camu – This Amazonian berry has approximately 460x more vitamin C than an orange. I add a tiny bit to my smoothies or take it with water, every other day.
Metagenics do a high-potency vitamin C tablet or if you are like World-record-holder Lindsey Vonn, who states Vitamin C as her must-have supplement, you can also get them in a high-potency chewable gummy for adults!
Collagen is an amino acid that is the main structural protein that forms your connective tissues and skin. It is the key building block for your body for tendons, ligaments, and fascia. It helps maintain the integrity of your cartilage which is the tissue that protects your joints. And remember, your body needs vitamin C to produce collagen naturally. It is also recommended that you take collagen with vitamin C. Collagen also deteriorates in the body with age. Many people take collagen supplements for their skin and hair to help preserve the elasticity, but athletes take it to help recovery and help repair ligaments fast. You should too!
Other benefits of collagen for ligament repair:
- Reduce pain associated with injuries
- Prevent soft tissue injuries
- Help to improve the symptoms associated with common sports-related conditions such as osteoarthritis
Foods rich in collagen include bone broth (we recommend Kettle and Fire if you don’t make your own recipe), and any foods that are also rich in vitamin C like leafy greens, citrus, and also oysters and meat for its high amino acids.
We recommend adding a collagen supplement to your smoothies as many top athletes do for recovery (see big wave surfer Ian Walsh’s collagen smoothie recipe). The top choice and recommendation of athletes and nutritionists worldwide is Great Lakes Collagen. Full of protein and 19 amino acids and also paleo-friendly and Keto diet certified. Many athletes take this supplement, including me. It was mentioned over-and-over again by top-performing athletes as a key supplement in Tim Ferris’s book Tools of Titans: The tactics, routines and habits of billionaires, icons, and World-class performers. I highly recommend reading this book.
I was a temporary vegetarian when I tore my ligament. While I do not normally eat a lot of meat, like surf champion Kelly Slater, I try to get protein from a variety of different sources, including plants.
Protein makes up the bulk of your tendons and ligaments. It is the building block of all new collagen and elastin needed for ligament, tendon and muscle repair. Protein is going to help you rebuild that torn a ligament. How quickly and how well your injuries heal can be aided by your protein intake. With this knowledge, I ditched the veggie diet and went straight out for a grass-fed steak! You can however, get great rich protein sources from plants.
Protein can be found in lean and red meats, yogurt, eggs and dairy products, beans, lentils and chia seeds.
Recommended Protein powders?
I’m a big fan of Bulletproof Whey Collagen protein. If you haven’t heard of the Bulletproof diet, I recommend reading the Bulletproof Diet book around ketones and remaining in a state of ketosis. Other great protein powders are Optimum Nutrition Protein Powder, made from Whey or Orgain Organic Plant-based Protein.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
You can’t read any health food research without a mention of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Research by the Society for Experimental Biology and Medicine reported that omega-3 fatty acids can speed up the healing of ligament injuries by enhancing collagen formation, even within a short time period of 72 hours. As we have already learned, our ligaments are made up of collagen so anything that helps our bodies produce it as part of the healing process is going to be hugely beneficial for recovery. Like vitamin C, your body can’t make omega 3s so we have to obtain them through food.
Other benefits of Omega 3s include:
- Reduce inflammation
- Promoting heart health
- Healthy hair and skin
Omega 3s are found in salmon, albacore tuna, herring, lake trout, flounder, sardines, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, mackerel, halibut, black cod and Arctic char.
Recommended Omega-3 Supplements?
I recommend taking a complete omega formula of 7s and 3s, like Metagenics Omegagenics Mega 10 (very expensive), or you can take fish oils like Doctor Tobias High Strength Omegas – over 10,000 positive reviews!
Organic Bone Broth for increased vitamins for ligament repair after injury
Another thing I learned in this injury process is the health and healing benefits of Bone Broth. Bone broth is essentially a stock made with beef bones that have a lot of marrow in them: chin bones, knuckles etc. I’ve been making loads of bone broth and drinking it first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening before I go to bed.
It is full of inflammatory and healing proteins, healthy fats and minerals. The broth also contains collagen which gets released from the bones during the cooking process. As I mentioned before, I was a vegetarian before I got injured and now I’m boiling bones and drinking the broth in place of my morning coffee because I know how incredible it is for you. It is very important to get the best quality bones for your broth. Make sure the animals have been grass-fed and go talk to your local butcher.
Bone broth is rich in minerals, collagen, and gelatin. If you haven’t got time to make it yourself, buy the powdered form and keep it in the cupboard. Add to soups, or use as an alternative to store-bought stock and get all the rich mineral benefits.
We recommend Kettle & Fire Beef Bone Broth by 100 Percent Grass-fed, Organic cows.
Turmeric & Curcumin
Known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, turmeric and its main active ingredient curcumin is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing characteristics. Used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. Many people take it in pill form as a supplement when injured, or add turmeric powder to curries and delicious hot drinks (great turmeric latte recipe here). I always up my turmeric intake when injured to help with inflammation. Get yourself a really good quality, organic turmeric product, note that quality and potency for healing varies greatly. Buy organic and as least processed as possible. Add a bit of pepper to increase the absorption of all the anti-inflammatory qualities.
Vermison Health also makes a great glucosamine product with Chondroitin Turmeric, so basically a 3-in-1. You can buy ready-made turmeric latte mix (also called golden milk) powders from most supermarkets and drug stores. We are a huge fan of big wave surfer Laird Hamilton’s Turmeric Superfood Coffee Creamer. It is vegan certified and makes a deliciously creamy and healthy coffee.
Ancient Ayurvedic medicine
If you are in the US check out this new product called HANAH. Made with Turmeric, curcumin, Ghee, and loads of other highly potent natural ingredients from Ayurvedic principles. Many athletes use it every day including climber Jimmy Chin, snowboarder Travis Rice, skier Angel Collinson and big wave surfer Ian Walsh.
Supplements taken by top athletes
- 2x Olympic Gold medalist Jamie Anderson takes a green shake that’s filled with amino acids — called Tonic Alchemy — it has over 100 superfoods like spirulina, goji berries, all kinds of different grains.
- Ski racer Lindsey Vonn takes Vitamin C daily and a kids multi-vitamin gummy. She also takes glucosamine for her joints and amino acids to process the proteins when lifting weights.
- Travis Rice, Jimmy Chin & Angel Collinson all take HANAH in their smoothies, coffee & tea.
- Amelia Boone, extreme obstacle course racer & 3x winner of the World’s Toughest Mudder as well as the world-renowned author of The 4 Hour Work Week, Tim Ferris, both take Great Lakes Hydrolysed Collagen.
Read about the diet and nutrition of top of athletes Kelly Slater, Travis Rice and Sally Fitzgibbons.
Speak to an expert
I am not a qualified nutritionist so it goes without saying that if you are making a drastic change to your diet, you should seek advice from a doctor or a qualified nutritionist. Having a healthy balanced diet is so important for athletes, injured or healthy but even more important when your body is using energy to rebuilt tissue, ligaments, muscles and tendons. Your body needs premium building blocks to do so. This post is not endorsed by any company and is written from my own experience and recommendations as an athlete who has dealt with multiple injuries and setbacks.
Sources of further information and reading on foods and vitamins for ligament repair:
Nutritional Support For Ligamentous Injuries by G. Douglas Andersen, DC, DACBSP, CCN
Speed Up Injury Healing by Eating These Recovery Foods by Runners Connect
Nutrients Needed for Tendons & Ligaments by Healthy Eating
Vitamins for Ligament Repair by Live Strong