Surgery Ahead? Take Your Vitamins!

Brian Young

by Brian Young | August 10, 2010 @ 01:00PM

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The date is marked on your calendar. You've made the decision to have this procedure done, and now your biggest concern is the time you'll spend recovering. You want to get back to your daily activities as quickly as possible.

While recovery time ultimately depends on the type and extent of surgery you undergo, there are certain steps you can take to help your body get ready to heal. There is no proof that vitamins or other supplements will guarantee a speedier recovery. However, according to Los Angeles plastic surgeon Dr. Brian Kinney, there is some evidence that certain vitamins and herbal remedies promote healing. For instance, "creams and ointments containing vitamin E or Aloe Vera can help reduce scarring on incision sites in the later stages of healing."

According to Dr. Kinney, "Most doctors and surgeons are fairly sympathetic towards alternative methods" such as herbal supplements but, unfortunately, there is little documentation on their effectiveness. And there are medications and herbal preparations that you MUST avoid for the two weeks prior to your surgery. These include aspirin and anti-inflammatory medicines such as Nuprin, Motrin, and Advil. Also avoid herbal remedies such as St. John's Wort, gingko biloba, and some types of Chinese black mushrooms – as well as any other natural medicines or foods that may thin the blood.

Bottom line: the stronger and healthier you are going into surgery, the better your recovery will be. So, as you approach your surgery date, be good to yourself. Eat those fruits and vegetables, exercise in moderation, and be sure to get the vitamins your body needs for optimal health.

Here's a list of some important vitamins, the foods they're found in, and the role they play in keeping us healthy:

Vitamin A

Found in foods such as milk, mozzarella cheese, carrots and other dark or intensely colored fruits and vegetables.

The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin A for the average adult is 1,000 micrograms for men and 800 micrograms for women. Vitamin A is known to aid in good eye-sight and healthy skin. It also keeps cells and tissues in your body healthy.

Vitamins B-6 and B-12

Found in bananas and meats like salmon, turkey and chicken.

B-6 functions to break down amino acids in your body. It also helps to produce hemoglobin, an important blood protein. The RDA of B-6 for the average adult is 1.3 mg for men and women.

Vitamin B-12 is found in all fortified cereals and many meats, such as turkey, fish, and beef. It can also be found in dairy products such as yogurt and milk. Vitamin B-12 works to promote healthy nerve growth and regular red blood cell production.

Vitamin C

Found in oranges and other citrus fruits, as well as vegetables such as broccoli.

Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant -- which means that it helps keeps the cells in your body from breaking down too quickly. The recommended daily allowance for vitamin C is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. Common benefits include healthy gums, teeth, and bones. Vitamin C is also known to help fight infection.

Vitamin D

Found in milk, cereal, eggs, and many animal products.

Vitamin D is most important in helping your body absorb calcium. In addition to food sources, vitamin D can be synthesized by your body with exposure to sunlight. About 20 minutes of sunlight each day will fulfill your RDA of Vitamin D.

Vitamin E

Found in foods such as peanut butter, salmon, and olive oil.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that plays an important role in helping maintain cell strength. The RDA for the average adult is 10 mg in males and 8mg in females.

Vitamin K

Leafy green vegetables and egg yolks are both excellent sources of vitamin K.

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for blood coagulation. The RDA of vitamin K for the average adult is 80 micrograms for men and 65 micrograms for women.

Remember: With the exception of vitamin D, vitamins cannot be manufactured by your body. Therefore, it is important to maintain a balanced diet. Take vitamin supplements to make up for any shortages in your diet. If you are concerned about how a vitamin or herbal supplement will affect your surgical procedure or recovery, do not hesitate to consult your physician. 

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Tags: Surgery, Vitamins
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