Nutritional supplements for musculoskeletal injuries

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  • #24268

    Hey–this question goes out to nutritionist Rebecca Dent. Rebecca, are you out there? Your contributions on this site are great. Other knowledgeable folks welcome to reply as well, of course.

    For the last 14 months I have been struggling with lower leg injuries involving ligaments, cartilage, and soft tissue. I’m now facing the prospect of two surgeries within the next six months.

    Are there any supplements with proven benefits, however small, for anti-inflamatory properties, and ligaments and tendon health?

    Specifically, I am wondering about:

    -Omega-3 fatty acids

    -Branched chain amino acids

    -Various collagen supplements

    -Gelatin supplements (like eating Jello).

    I eat very little refined food, a great deal of nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, and meat perhaps once or twice a week. I’ve done a diet analysis, and I take in about 140 grams of protein/day, although it is from fairly limited sources, mostly the same nuts and seeds, and low-fat dairy. I am 46, and for the last 30 years have trained very consistently at about 7 hours per week.

    Maybe that last sentence says it all…my body is breaking down and I need help.

    Thanks for this great site and resource,


Posted In: Injury & Rehab

  • Moderator
    Rebecca Dent on #24356

    Hi Bruno,

    Thanks for the feedback and for the call out.

    In answer to your question there are indeed some nutritional supplements that have been proven to support/aid recovery from injuries involving tendon/ligament/general recovery these include;

    Omega 3
    Tart cherry juice

    Gelatine and collagen can both be helpful, but they exert similar effects so you don’t need to take both. Research has shown gelatine (an animal product made by boiling down the bones, connective tissue and tendons of animals and an ingredient often used in cooking as a setting agent) can help promote bone growth, increase collagen production, thickened cartilage and potentially decrease joint pain. Gelatine contains similar amino acids found in collagen.

    I would suggest to take one or the other (gelatine or collagen) and allow approx. 8-10 weeks for them to take effect. Some supplements work acutely (start acting within a short space of time e.g. hours/days) but other works chronically (take longer to exert a change e.g. weeks/months).

    Omega 3 fish oils may also be beneficial and again similar to collagen / gelatine require approx. 6-8weeks to have any benefit.

    I would certainly get your vitamin D3 levels checked, keep up good hydration (helps improve blood flow to the sight of injury and clear away waste products from the injured site). Limit / avoid alcohol (shown to slow recovery from injury).

    And as you are doing, supplements should be seen as an addition to any diet not an instead of, optimising dietary intake as you have noted is also key. I would improve your protein intake in the form of good quality food sources, such as meat, fish, dairy, tofu, quorn (as per your preference) and combine plant sources such as rice & lentils, beans & quinoa to optimise protein intake of plant foods. It may be worth a protein supplement such as whey, casein or pea (with added leucine in the pea protein) to ensure you are achieving daily requirements via good quality sources specific for muscle recovery / repair given you are 46yrs of age. I have mentioned BCAA in another forum question and at present the research does not support their use if you are already getting sufficient protein from food sources.

    Foods high in anti-oxidants include green leafy veg, berries and all bright coloured fruit and veg but green leaf and berries have been shown to be superior. Also vitamin C rich foods are important for injury repair.

    Curcumin is another nutritional supplement that has anti-inflammatory effects that may be beneficial but again it is important you purchase this in the correct form, take it at the right time and stay on this for at least 3months and remain on it for the longer term benefits.

    I hope this answers your question?

    If you would like more detail on dosage and supplements specific to you I would be happy to discuss this via a 30 min phone consult. (bottom of the page to sign up).



    Anonymous on #24406

    Hey Rebecca, Thanks for the reply. I’ll get in touch to schedule a phone consultation. All the best, Bruno.

    Participant on #25129

    Hey Bruno,

    In addition to Rebecca’s already thorough reply:

    Research has shown gelatine [or collagen] can help promote bone growth, increase collagen production, thickened cartilage and potentially decrease joint pain

    Also vitamin C rich foods are important for injury repair

    The following describes some very interesting research from Keith Baar et al, into the efficacy of combining gelatine and vitamin C supplementation, with tendon loading exercise, to improve strength, prevent injury, and – when necessary – speed recovery:

    Exactly which exercise(s) you chose to implement the loading protocol would depend on where you see deficit(s). But for you – lower leg issues – jump rope as per article, is ideal.

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