Top 5 Nutrients for Wound Healing

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Shield HealthCare
11/18/15  9:25 AM PST
Nutrients for Wound Healing

Top 5 Nutrients for Wound Healing

If you have a pressure injury, nutrition becomes especially important. Consume a variety of foods to ensure that you get enough nutrients to help with wound healing.


Having a pressure injury increases your calorie needs. You may need to add extra calories to food if you have trouble gaining weight. Getting enough calories helps your body to avoid using protein for energy during times of stress or illness.

Recommendation: 30-35 calories per kilogram of body weight per day for people under physical stress with a pressure injury (adjust for underweight or obesity)

TIP: Consume snacks or eat smaller, more frequent meals to avoid feeling too full to eat enough.

Good sources:

  • Oral nutrition supplements
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters
  • Vegetable oil, butter, cream



Protein is necessary to make and repair tissue. You may need extra protein if you have a large or draining wound or if you are underweight. Adequate protein intake will help your body maintain a positive nitrogen balance for wound healing.

Recommendation: 1-1.5 grams/kilogram/day

TIP: More than 2 grams/kilogram may contribute to dehydration in the elderly.

Good sources:

  • Beef, poultry, pork, fish, seafood
  • Milk, yogurt, cheese
  • Beans, nuts, soy




Your body needs water to transport nutrients and get rid of waste products. Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily. You may need more if you have a fever, use a special air mattress or have a wound that drains fluid. Use of negative pressure wound therapy increases fluid needs. Make sure you drink plenty of water if you are on a high-protein diet.

Recommendation: 30-35 milliliters/day or 1 milliliter/calorie consumed

Good sources:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Juice and milk
  • Jell-O
  • Popsicles
  • Broth-based soups



Vitamin C helps prevent damage to your cells and repair tissue. You may need a vitamin C supplement if you have wound that is difficult to heal or if you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.

Recommendation: For clinical or suspected deficiency supplement up to 2,000 daily until resolved.

TIP: There is a risk of toxicity in patients with chronic renal failure and high doses of vitamin C may also cause gastric upset.

Good Sources:

  • Citrus fruit, kiwi
  • Bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower




You need zinc to make collagen, a major protein in connective tissue necessary for wound healing.

You should be able to get enough zinc from food and a daily multivitamin but your needs may be increased if you have heavily draining wounds or if you don’t eat enough food.

Recommendation: For clinical deficiency:  40 to 50 milligrams of elemental zinc for up to 30 days

TIP: Long term high doses of zinc, such as from a supplement, inhibits copper absorption, contributing to anemia, impaired immune system and poor wound healing.

Good Sources:

  • Seafood (especially oysters)
  • Beef, pork, chicken
  • Yogurt and cheese

nutrition and wound healing


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1 Comment

  1. Elizabeth Gardner
    Posted January 14, 2016 at 12:24 pm PDT

    good to know I have a wound but not a pressure ulcer

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