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Nutritional Healing for Spinal Discs

By Sylvie Tremblay, MSc

Your spine contains several bones, or vertebrae, connected by spinal discs made of cartilage. Both the vertebrae and spinal discs surround and protect the spinal cord, a part of the nervous system that allows communication between your brain and the rest of your body. Spinal disc injuries can lead to pain and discomfort, and might potentially lead to permanent spinal cord nerve damage if left untreated. While nutrition alone might not prove sufficient to heal an injured spinal disc, nutrients in the foods you eat might contribute to spinal disc healing.

Vitamin C

One nutrient important for healing spinal discs is vitamin C. The tissues that make up your spinal discs -- cartilage and other connective tissues -- all contain the protein collagen. As a result, your body must make new collagen as part of the process of healing your spinal disc tissue. To synthesize collagen, your cells require vitamin C, according to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Many fruits provide a source of this nutrient, so consuming a balanced diet rich in fruits might help promote spinal disc healing.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A -- an essential vitamin -- might also help promote spinal disc healing. After a spinal disc injury, your body must generate new cartilage cells -- called chondrocytes -- for healthy cartilage tissue. Vitamin A helps promote proper cartilage cell development by promoting the development of mature chondrocytes, according to the New York University Langone Medical Center. Consume pumpkin, spinach, kelp and potatoes to increase your vitamin A intake and help promote spinal disc healing.

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Another nutrient that might help ease the discomfort of spinal disc injuries is omega-3 fatty acids. Often, disc injuries such as herniated discs lead to discomfort due to increased inflammation around the injury site. The displaced spinal disc tissues irritate the surrounding tissue, leading to the release of inflammatory factors, as well as swelling and pain. Omega-3 fatty acids help control the levels of inflammation in the body, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, and might therefore help ease some discomfort associated with a herniated disc. If you suffer from spinal inflammation, consult your doctor about the potential benefits of taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements, or include fish and flaxseed in your diet.

Considerations

Eating healthy and consuming a range of nutrients can have a beneficial effect on spinal healing. Compounds naturally found in healthy foods can help your body in recovering from a spinal disc injury, but a healthy diet alone might not prove effective in treating a spinal injury. Any health condition affecting your spinal discs requires the attention of a medical professional, who might suggest a number of treatments, including prescription medication. If you're interested in nutritional supplements to help heal an injured spinal disc, consult your doctor regarding the safety of the supplements, and their potential benefit in helping to heal your injury.

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