Ideally, you want to find a proper balance among the nutrients you get from your diet and supplements as you heal and recover from a spinal cord injury (SCI), because an overabundance of certain nutrients can do more harm than good. One way to get the right balance is to make sure you’re focusing on the vitamins considered crucial for a spinal cord injury. Five of them are discussed below.
B12 plays a big role in the functioning of nerve and brain cells. This vitamin also produces myelin, an insulating layer (sheath) that surrounds nerves, including those in the injured area of the spinal cord. This protective layer helps with the transmission of nerve impulses from the spinal cord to the brain. Natural sources of B12 include:
Vitamins are also essential for optimal recovery from procedures such as spinal fusion surgery. Los Angeles patients should seek advice from their spine specialists about which foods will aid most in their recovery.
B9 aids in the SCI recovery process by helping with the production and maintenance of cells. Folate is the natural type of B9 found primarily in dark green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach. The supplement form of B9 is called folic acid. An animal study suggests the natural form of B9 may also help with nerve regeneration.
Many SCI patients have low levels of bone-strengthening vitamin D, which could place added stress on a healing spinal cord because of a lack of sufficient support from spinal bones. It’s common for this type of deficiency to occur in SCI patients because of reduced exposure to sunlight—a reliable source of natural vitamin D.
A vitamin D deficiency can also increase the odds of developing bone diseases such as osteoporosis. Dietary sources of this vitamin include:
It’s important to get enough vitamin C as you recover from a spinal cord injury, since this particular nutrient aids in the healing process. Vitamin C also helps with the production of chemicals that allow nerves to transmit signals (neurotransmitters). Foods naturally loaded with vitamin C include:
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is an omega-3 fatty acid that’s especially good for the central nervous system, which is what’s often affected most by a spinal cord injury. One study suggests DHA may regulate the nerve growth factors that contribute to optimal neuron function. Foods rich in this particular omega-3 fatty acid include:
Vitamins alone won’t cure your injured spinal cord, but the right balance of nutrients can give your body the added boost it needs to respond well to physical therapy and other treatments likely to be recommended for you. If you do rely on supplements to get the nutrients you can’t get from your diet alone, take them as directed to maintain a healthy balance of vitamins and nutrients in your system.
For more detailed information about how nutrition and spinal health are connected, your doctor or a Los Angeles spine surgeon can be a fantastic resource. If you’ve had a spinal cord injury or you’re experiencing severe or prolonged back pain, reach out to the spinal health experts at The Spine Institute. Our experienced physicians are setting the standard for innovative care, including using state-of-the-art technology to diagnose and treat all forms of neck and back pain. Call one of our friendly representatives today at 310-828-7757 to schedule an appointment.