In order for a wound to heal, fibrous, connective scar tissue forms around the damaged skin or tissue. The scar tissue works as a protective barrier, preventing any further injury to the region. Scar formation and healing time are dependent on the size, depth and location of the wound, the age of the injured person, his or her genetics and skin characteristics. There are specific foods that contain vitamins and minerals, called micronutrients, that can aid in the healing process, speeding it up and reducing the appearance of scar tissue. Read on to learn more about how micronutrients help fight scars.
What Are Micronutrients?
Micronutrients make up just a small portion of our nutritional needs, but these vitamins and minerals are essential to many processes in human health, development, and growth. There’s a long list of micronutrients, including:
- folic acid
- vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K
A lack of these nutrients in your diet, a fairly common occurrence in developing countries, makes you more susceptible to disease and infection. One possible result of micronutrient deprivation is scurvy, the name given to the various effects on the body from a lack of Vitamin C. Without micronutrients the immune system is significantly weakened, which can put people, especially the elderly and infants, at risk for many types of illness.
Micronutrients and Scar Healing
A healthy diet full of micronutrient-rich foods plays a large part in the scar healing process, providing the body with the necessary tools to rebuild. Several micronutrients are an integral part of the healing process, particularly:
- Vitamins A, C and E;
- omega-3 fatty acids;
- and magnesium.
A lack of these nutrients can impair the healing process, impede collagen production, and decrease the body’s inflammatory response. There are also several trace elements on the list of micronutrients that, while they don’t play a direct part in the healing process, serve as cofactors or partners to enzymes necessary to heal scars.
Micronutrients are naturally occurring parts of a wide range of plant- and animal-based foods. With today’s technology, micronutrients can also be synthesized in laboratories, but a healthy diet filled with a variety of foods is normally sufficient to absorb all the necessary vitamins and minerals that we as humans need to stay well.
Among the most micronutrient-dense foods are blueberries, kale, potatoes, carrots, strawberries, and kiwis. Seafood is also a good source of essential micronutrients, especially those omega-3 fatty acids, with salmon, shellfish, and sardines topping the list of sources. Garlic, egg yolks, and dark chocolate are also among the most nutritionally dense foods available.
Topical Treatments with Micronutrients
Foods aren’t the only source of micronutrients, and studies have shown that topical application of micronutrients can complement dietary consumption to create stronger protective barriers in the body. To aid in the healing of scars and reduce their appearance, many doctors recommend using topical treatments fortified with micronutrients, those with vitamin E being particularly popular. The healing process is a concerted effort between several different cell types in the skin including the epidermis, dermis, and inflammatory mediators. Topical treatments bring these nutrients straight to these cells and speed up healing.
Whether applied topically or ingested as part of a well-balanced diet, micronutrients are essential for keeping the body healthy. The skin, the largest organ of the body, is especially benefitted by micronutrients as it is the body’s first line of defense against the environment. Micronutrients can not only help your body keep up with everyday wear and tear, but they’re essential for helping the skin heal.