Torn muscles can occur as a result of physical injury or over-exertion, and these types of tears only heal with time and rest. Technically, however, your muscle fibre tear every time you put them under stress, and they grow by rebuilding themselves bigger and stronger after each workout. Whether you have severe, injury-related torn muscles or just the routine tearing that accompanies exercise, fast and effective healing requires a vitamin-rich balance of nutrients.
Vitamin C is one of the principal nutrients for expediting healing of torn muscle tissue, according to "Skeletal Muscle Damage and Repair: Mechanisms & Interventions" by Peter Tiidus. Among its primary functions are promoting the proper growth and repair of all soft tissues, including muscle tissue, tendons and ligaments. Vitamin C is also essential to the production of red blood cells, which help heal damaged muscles. The National Institutes of Health reports that vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, which also has important implications regarding muscle repair. In "Optimal Muscle Performance and Recovery," author Ed Burke explains that clinical studies have found vitamin C to be effective in reducing post-exercise soreness and that the researchers attributed these results to the vitamin's antioxidant abilities. Antioxidants seek out and inhibit free radicals, harmful particles generated in excess during exercise and injury which can attack healthy muscle cells and other tissue cells. The National Institutes of Health recommends 90 mg of vitamin C per day for adult men and 75 mg per day for adult women, but these levels may be increased slightly during injury recovery.
Vitamin E functions very similarly to vitamin C. According to the National Institutes of Health, it is also an antioxidant, and Burke reports that it promotes tissue repair and increases circulation, speeding red blood cells to torn muscles. Burke also cites clinical studies that indicate vitamin E may reduce soreness related to muscle tearing from routine exercise, particularly among less-athletic subjects who may be less accustomed to strenuous physical activity. He also states that vitamins E and C work together to protect and repair muscles more effectively than they work apart. Whereas vitamin C performs its antioxidant function by coursing through the bloodstream in search of free radicals throughout the body, vitamin E specifically targets free radicals in cell membranes. The National Institutes of Health recommends 15 mg of vitamin E per day for adults age 14 and older.
Vitamin A also promotes the proper growth and repair of all soft tissues, according to "The New Encyclopedia of Vitamins, Minerals, Supplements, and Herbs: A Completely Cross-Referenced User's Guide for Optimal Health" by Nicola Reavley. Pure vitamin A can be ingested from supplements and dietary sources, but the body can also produce vitamin A from carotenoids, which are found in foods like carrots, squashes, cantaloupe, broccoli, spinach and dark green leafy vegetables. One notable carotenoid, beta-carotene, is also an antioxidant singled out by Burke as crucial to speedy muscle repair. The National Institutes of Health recommends a daily intake of 900 mcg of vitamin A for men and 700 mcg for women, with some daily intake coming from dietary sources of beta-carotene.
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