Ligaments connect bone to bone and tendons connect muscle to bone. The function of these connectors is important for everyday activities and movements. But active people are prone to ligament and tendon damage due to the stresses of physical activity, especially repetitive motions. The good news is that many vitamins and minerals have essential roles in tissue repair, including to ligaments and tendons.
Not only may vitamin C help reduce or prevent delayed onset muscle soreness due to exercise, it may also speed along recovery. Vitamin C helps our bodies produce collagen, which strengthens the connective tissue that forms our ligaments and tendons. When we're injured, our requirements for vitamin C seem to increase. If too little is consumed, this will negatively impact the healing process. Getting enough vitamin C also helps limit further injury to damaged tissue and muscles.
Glucosamine & Chondroitin
Glucosamine helps build cartilage, which is the body's shock absorber. This nutrient is also known to help build strong joints, ligaments and tendons. Glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin sulfate produce a material the body needs for healthy skin, tendons, ligaments and joints. Both animal and test tube studies report the benefits of these nutrients on healing tissue.
European doctors have used chondroitin sulfate injections to treat sports injuries to the tendons and joints. One trial resulted in reduced pain and improved healing among young athletes who received 750-1,500 mg a day of glucosamine sulfate.
Bromelain is an enzyme found in pineapple that has natural anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to help heal minor injuries, including sprains and strains. Bromelain may also act as a pain reliever by reducing inflammation. It also improves blood circulation.
Manganese is a trace mineral that's important for tissue repair and overall tendon and ligament health. In addition to manganese, silicon and copper are other trace minerals known for their importance in tissue repair. However, there have been no controlled studies of the impact of these minerals on people with ligament or tendon damage.
Zinc is necessary for wound repair, and a deficiency in this mineral interferes with recovery from major and minor injuries.
Talk to Your Doctor
Before looking to boost your diet with supplements like those mentioned, be sure to consult your doctor. Manganese and zinc, in particular, have well-documented and potentially very serious side effects, particularly when used excessively in supplement form. Other nutrients, like vitamin C, don't have serious side effects, but balance is key to overall health.