Long live the vitamins!

In order for your body to heal properly after surgery and ward off a wound infection, it must maintain levels of vitamins and nutrients. These are the elements you would need to heighten during your recovery, as well as three most basic vitamins: A, B and C.

Vitamin A or retinol is an essential vitamin for visual health. It is also found in the form of provitamin A or beta-carotene. A high consumption of beta-carotene does not involve a risk of hypervitaminosis, since the proportion of this carotenoid converted into retinol depends on the level of vitamin A reserves. On the other hand, the excess of beta-carotene in the form of dietary supplements (generally in antioxidant cocktails) is strongly discouraged for smokers because it increases the carcinogenic effect of tobacco and thus promotes cancer of the lung.  What you should remember:

  • Retinol and beta-carotene are better assimilated in the presence of lipids (fats). It is therefore better to eat fruits or vegetables rich in beta-carotene in a meal (cooked sweet potato, carrots, baked pumpkin, roman salad, spinach, lettuce, apricot, mango, melon, cod liver oil, cooked poultry liver, cooked veal liver, liver of heifer or cooked lamb, canned foie gras, butter, fresh cream, parmesan cheese, roquefort, emmental cheese, eggs)
  • Paraffin oil, cholesterol-lowering drugs to reduce fat assimilation (cholestyramine, colestipol), may affect vitamin A uptake.
  • Retinol supplements should not be combined with antibiotics of the cyclin family or retinoid creams or gels prescribed for example against acne

Vitamin B complex

Vitamin B complex refers to 8 B vitamins: vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B8 (biotin), vitamin B9 (folic acid or folate) and vitamin B12 (cobalamin or cyanocobalamin).

This structure is more complex and different from that of other vitamins. It is not possible to mention the indications for vitamin B in general because the latter vary according to the different vitamins B. However, vitamins B6, B9 and B12 have similar indications. These include prevention of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis or depression. However, it is different for others! For example, vitamin B1 plays a role in carbohydrate metabolism and energy production, while vitamin B3 is useful in the production of red blood cells and the synthesis of sex hormones.

Sources of B vitamins include grains, yeasts, whole grains, nuts, pulses or greens, fruits, dairy products, and offal. For vegetarians or vegans, vitamin B may be a problem, and it is important to be aware of it.

Where to find these vitamins?

We suggest some ways to find B vitamins in your diet.

Vitamin B1: pulses (dried peas, lentils, etc.), yeast, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

Vitamin B2: nuts, green vegetables, wheat germs, rice, yeast and mushrooms.

Vitamin B3: wild rice, yeasts, whole wheat products, barley, almonds and pulses.

Vitamin B5: yeast, mushrooms, cashews, oat flakes, rye flour, buckwheat, sunflower seeds, soybeans, lentils, red pepper, avocado.

Vitamin B6: yeasts, wheat germs, bananas, nuts, sunflower seeds, lentils, soybeans, beans, buckwheat flour and avocados.

Vitamin B8: whole grain products (bread), yeast, nuts, egg yolk, cauliflower, banana, sardines, and mushrooms.

Vitamin B9: fruits, green vegetables, rice, beans, yeast, soy.

Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 can not be found outside the natural diet of animal origin – meats, offal, eggs, dairy products, fish. We must therefore be careful and avoid deficiencies. For this reason, people who follow a vegetarian diet are encouraged to consult specialists who can recommend appropriate supplements.

Vitamin C is water-soluble. Although most mammals can synthesize it, the human body has lost its capacity during evolution. We must therefore take it every day in food. Mainly the small intestine absorbs vitamin C and, in much smaller quantities, into the mouth and stomach; the urine eliminates it. In the body, it is especially present in the lens of the eye, the white blood cells, the pituitary gland, the adrenal glands and the brain.

Vitamin C participates in hundreds of processes in the body. One of these main functions is to help the body make collagen, a protein essential for the formation of connective tissue of skin, ligaments and bones. It also contributes to the maintenance of immune function, it activates the healing of wounds, participates in the formation of red blood cells and increases the absorption of iron contained in plants.

One of the other important roles of vitamin C is its antioxidant effect, which protects the cells against damage caused by free radicals.

Dietary sources of vitamin C

These are the colorful, raw fruits and vegetables that contain the most vitamin C: red pepper, orange, lemon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, raspberry, strawberry, broccoli, tomato, etc.

Generally, the consumption of at least 5 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables can largely offset the recommended dietary intakes of vitamin C. (See Canada’s Food Guide for how much 1 serving of fruit or vegetable is).

Warning. Air, water and heat can destroy vitamin C in food. To preserve vitamin C in food, it is therefore advisable to cook vegetables quickly in the least possible water (steam, microwave oven for example).

Zinc/Proteins/Carbohydrates

The National Institutes of Health points out that zinc aids in the wound healing process by helping maintain the durability of skin and mucosal membranes. In addition, this nutrient can boost your immune system. The stronger your immune system is, the better it will be able to fight off infections in your wound. Zinc can be found in many different foods including red meats, lentils, cashews and pumpkin seeds. However, protein is critical during the wound healing process because it helps the body repair damaged tissues. When determining how much protein you need per day, your clinician will consider several factors, such as your dietary history and depth of your wound. If you do not want to eat meat every day, there are other ways you can boost your protein intake. The National Alliance of Wound Care and Ostomy suggests adding milk powder to hot cereals, mashed potatoes, and eating desserts that contain eggs. When recovering from a wound, it is crucial to fill your diet with carbohydrates. Glucose is one of the main types of carbohydrates and provides energy for white blood cells boosts collagen production and promotes fibroblast growth, according to the University of Nottingham. Oatmeal, fruits, pasta and rice are all good sources of carbohydrates.