5 ways to support bone healing in kids4
My son has had one goal this summer: master the monkey bars. Every chance he’s gotten, he’s been hanging around trying to traverse as many sets of monkey bars as possible. Unfortunately, he took a tumble off a set of bars and landed on his hand over the weekend – which resulted in a buckle fracture (aka greenstick fracture). It’s a type of fracture that kids often get, because their bones are much more pliable than an adult’s – the bone bends, but doesn’t completely break. So now he’s sporting a half-cast/splint to help him heal. Being a student of natural nutrition, I wanted to support his bone healing naturally and/or through good nutrition. Here’s the rundown:
1. Avoid aspirin and ibuprofen
At the children’s hospital, we were told not to give him any ibuprofen (e.g. Advil), because non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen or aspirin are thought to impair bone healing, inhibit collagen matrix-building and accelerate cartilage destruction. Rather than risk slowing down the healing of the fracture, the doctor recommended giving Tylenol if there was any pain. Aside from the initial fall, the pain seemed to subside quickly, so there wasn’t actually any need for any pain remedies for him.
2. Up the anti-inflammatory nutrients
With a break comes inflammation and damage from the rupturing tissues releasing free-radicals. Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients such as: Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A (beta-carotene) selenium, manganese, will help the healing process. These nutrients also happen to work synergistically with each other – and help increase absorption of iron.
Luckily, it’s summer, so our little guy is getting plenty of local leafy greens (high in beta-carotene, vitamin C and E) – he especially likes kale chips, so there’s been no problem in getting him to eat them. Local strawberries are ripe for the picking, so he’s also gotten plenty of vitamin C and antioxidants that way.
3. Get plenty of vitamin D
Vitamin D helps to increase calcium absorption and helps regulate the calcification and mineralization of bones. We normally don’t supplement for vitamin D in the summer, because we get plenty of safe sun exposure at this time of year. However, with his fracture and the heat and humidity, it’s been hard to spend as much time outside (a sweaty splint is not a happy splint) so we’ve been giving him a vitamin D supplement at his normal winter-time dosage. (The Vitamin D Council recommends that children get 1000 IU per 25 lbs of body weight).
4. Increase your bone building minerals
Since his little body is working on repairing his bone, we want to make sure there are plenty of building blocks to work with. When most people think of bones, they only think of calcium, but there are lots of other trace minerals that are necessary, such as zinc, copper, phosphorus, silicon.
Lo and behold, all of these minerals are available in the ratios found in bone broth! A hot, steaming bowl of broth isn’t exactly a welcome summertime treat, but there are plenty of ways to making drinking bone broth more palatable in the summer. Our guy’s favorite involves cooking sweet potato vermicelli (available at your local Asian grocer – look to make sure that the ingredient list contains no fillers or preservatives) in broth. In this summer heat, it helps to make bone broth in a slow cooker so you’re not slaving over a hot stove.
5. Get enough protein
Proteins are needed to build body structures! What most people don’t realize, is that beyond the minerals, bone is also largely made up of protein – mostly collagen and glycosaminoglycans, and both can be found in bone broth. We’re also making sure our little monkey is getting some jello as a dessert too. We make it using unflavored gelatin, and flavor it with fruit juice or kombucha.
He’s also eating plenty of grass-fed beef and pastured eggs as his other protein sources, so we’re not worried about him not getting enough.
Overall, our little guy eats a pretty nutritious real food diet already, so hopefully this will help speed his bone healing. Has your child ever suffered a broken bone? Do you have any other tips to help a kid (or adult for that matter) heal from a fracture? If so, let me know in the comments.