Surgery can lead to tissue damage due to incisions, tissue movement or other manipulation that can occur during a procedure. Any incision can potentially damage your nerves, causing numbness or other nerve defects after surgery. However, in some cases, your nerves can regenerate as part of the healing process -- and specific vitamins might play a role in this regeneration.
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One vitamin that might help promote nerve healing after injury is vitamin B-9, or folate. Consuming folate can affect the activity of genes within your nerve cells, helping to regulate genes involved in healing. A study published in the "Journal of Clinical Investigation" in May 2010 found that folate could promote nerve repair in the central nervous system in rats. While folate's effect on nerve repair in humans is not yet known, the vitamin might aid in nerve regeneration after surgery.
Another vitamin that might promote nerve regeneration, and might therefore aid in healing after surgery, is vitamin B-12, or cobalamin. A study published in "Experimental Neurology" in January 2010 indicates that the presence of methylcobalamin, a form of vitamin B-12 aided in rat nerve regeneration and recovery after injury. Although the effect of vitamin B-12 on human nerve regeneration has not yet been fully investigated, vitamin B-12 might supplements might also aid in nerve healing after physical damage during surgery.
Vitamin D might also play a role in nerve regeneration after surgery. A study published in the "Journal of Neutotrauma" in October 2008 found that vitamin D-2, a type of vitamin D synthesized in plants, had a positive effect on nerve regeneration. The animal study, conducted in rats, found that the presence of vitamin D-2 supporting the healing of a cut nerve. Although the effects of vitamin D-2 in regenerating human nerves is not well understood, the vitamin might aid in nerve regeneration after surgery.
While some vitamins are linked to nerve repair after surgery, there is no concrete clinical evidence indicating that vitamins supplements have a significant effect on nerve regeneration; vitamins do not present a miracle cure for damaged nerves after surgery. In addition, your capacity for nerve regeneration depends on the severity of the surgery. Large tissue resections might cause permanent nerve damage, while small incisions may heal effectively. Maintaining a healthy diet rich in vitamins can provide your body with the nutrients it needs to heal -- and a balanced diet can promote the general healing process after surgery. If you're concerned about the rate of nerve regeneration after a surgery, talk to your doctor to set realistic expectations about nerve healing, and to discuss the possible benefits of vitamins.
- "Journal of Clinical Investigation"; Folate Regulation of Axonal Regeneration in the Rodent Central Nervous System Through DNA Methylation; Iskandar et al.; 2010
- "Journal of Neurotrauma"; Vitamin D2 Potentiates Axon Regeneration; Chabas et al.; Oct. 2008
- "Nutrition"; A Vitamin E-Deficient Diet Affects Nerve Regeneration in Rats.; Enrione et al.; Feb.1999
- Hospital for Special Surgery; Nutrition for Healing; 2004
- "Medical Engineering and Physics"; In vivo Soft Tissue Damage Assessment for Applications in Surgery; Famaey et al.; 2010