Wounds occur all through life. The body is designed to heal itself. Some wounds are minor and heal quickly, like when a child falls off of a bike and scrapes his or her knee. More serious wounds, such as those that result from surgical procedures, take longer to heal. The time it takes wounds to heal depends on a number of factors, including age, nutrition and existing chronic conditions such as diabetes that can retard healing. Generally, older people take longer to heal due to the prevalence of chronic conditions, and they are also more likely to have essential nutrient malnutrition from poor dietary intake. Many elderly people develop bed sores, which are difficult to heal, particularly in those who are poorly nourished. More aggressive wound care procedures are needed for this older group.
Every cellular function in the human body is nutrition-dependent, including every cell involved with wound healing. Nutritional needs associated with wound healing are well defined.
Protein, especially the amino acids arginine and glutamine, are particularly important. All vitamins and minerals are needed for wound healing, but particularly key are anti-oxidants such as vitamins A and C, zinc and selenium. In addition, protein rich in arginine, free amino acids, glutamine (as glutamic acid), along with folate, iron, copper, vitamins B12 and B6, are beneficial to wound healing. Omega-3 fats also help control inflammation and promote faster wound healing.