Nutritional Aid For Recovery From Muscle Injuries

Nutritional Aid  For Recovery From Muscle Injuries in Sports

Muscle strain and injury are common among ath­letes especially due to the high commitment and intensity required by sports. The incidence of muscle injury ranges from 10 – 55% of all sports related in-juries and depending on the extent to which the muscle is damaged, return to regular training and sport participation can take up to three months. To minimize recovery time and scarring of the muscle tissue, athletes must consider key nutrients in their diet.

A study focusing on recreational athletes with chronic tendon disorders found that the treatment group given the following supplements had 99% pain re­duction as compared to 31% reduction in the control group. Additionally, activity in the sport increased with the treatment group 42% over the placebo group.

Let’s Take a Closer Look at Each of the Ingredients

1.Eicosapentaenoic Acid,


3,Acid and Gamma- Linolenic Acid

There is significant evidence to suggest that eicosapen­taenoic acid (EPA), docosa-hexaenoic acid (DHA) and gamma-linolenic acids play a role in the reduction of inflammation as well as acting as anti-inflammatories. Our diets are often high in arachidonic acid (n-6 poly-unsaturated acid) and low in EPA, DHA, and GLA. As consumption of omega-3’s are increased, cytokines, pro-inflammatory compounds produced by the body, decrease. To confer the benefits of these anti-inflam­matory effects, high levels of DHA have demonstrated a decrease in inflammation as well. Try to eat three ounces of fatty fish twice a week and focus on plant oils as opposed to saturated fats. If you prefer not to eat fish, try walnuts, flaxseed, canol, and soybean oils.


Selenium is important in the function of many en­zymes, but in the case of muscle injury, plays a vital role in the glutathione peroxidase and thioredoxin re­ductase pathways. These pathways are essential for protection against oxidative injury and operate at optimal efficiency with adequate amounts of selenium. Food sources of selenium include tuna, cod, turkey, eggs, gar­lic and fortified grains such as, oatmeal and breads. The RDA for selenium is 55ug/day for men and women.


Zinc is essential for wound healing and inflammation as well as proper immune response. Foods that are high in zinc include yogurt, lentils, beans, peas, milk, spinach, and seafood. The RDA for zinc is 11mg/day for men and 8mg/day for women.

Vitamin A

In order for muscle injuries to heal properly, it is es­sential that the diet includes vitamin A. Functions of vitamin A include cellular growth, development, bone repair, and immune function. Food sources plentiful in vitamin A include sweet potatoes, carrots, mangos, spinach, and red bell peppers. The RDA for vitamin A is 900 retinal activity equivalents (RAE)/day for men and 700 RAE/day for women.


Vitamin B6 is imperative for proper protein and red blood cell metabolism – both important for muscle recovery. Vitamin B6 is commonly found in fortified foods, garbanzo beans, potatoes (with the skin), sea-food, and avocados. The RDA for vitamin B6 is 1.3mg per day for both men and women.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C plays an important role in the formation of collagen which is needed for strength and flexibility and it also helps repair tendons, ligaments, and strengthens bones. Vitamin C can be found in foods such as cit­rus fruits, cabbage, tomatoes, broccoli, and strawber­ries. The RDA for vitamin C is 90mg/day for men and 75mg/day for women.

Vitamin E

Animal studies have shown the potential for Vitamin E (or alpha-tocopherol) to decrease the amount of oxida­tive stress and inflammatory damage that occurs with exercise. After a diet high in vitamin E for three weeks rats ran on a treadmill for 60 minutes. Mark­ers of oxidative and inflammatory stress were measured and results showed that the treat­ment group that was high in vitamin E had sig­nificantly lower levels of these markers than the non-treated exercise group. Food sources of vitamin E include wheat germ, sunflower oil, peanuts, almonds, spinach and broccoli.

The RDA for vitamin E is 15mg/day of RRR-alpha­tocopherol.


During muscle recovery, energy and protein needs are increased and metabolism is altered. For muscle soreness, the least severe injury, pro­tein and energy needs are increased for up to 48 hours post-injury. Additionally, fat oxidation is increased and insulin sensitivity is decreased. For more intense injuries such as those in the soft tissue and skeletal muscle, basal metabolic rate (BMR) may be increased by 32% for up to three weeks. Furthermore, highly trained ath­letes often continue an alternative workout program which could create a negative nitrogen bal­ance and increase protein needs in the diet. Recommendations for protein are 1.2 – 1.8g/kg body weight for athletes and those in recovery.

Proper nutrition is an important component for recovery of muscle injury. In the long-term, foods with anti-inflammatory properties not only enhance recovery, but help to prevent reoc­currence of injury. Eat well for recovery.

Key Recovery Nutrients



Elcosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)

376 mg

Docosa-Hexaenoic Acid


264 mg

Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)

672 mg


100 mg


15 mg

Vitamin A

1 mg

Vitamin B6

2.2 mg

Vitamin C

90 mg

Vitamin E

15 mg

Khizer Hayat Raja

Sr.Lecturer in Physical Education & Sports

International Weightlifting Coach & Expert

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