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Nutritional Supplements

BY: NANCY MORGAN, RN, BSN, MBA, WOCN, WCC, CWCMS, DWC
Wound healing and nutrition go hand in hand. Without adequate fluids, calories, and protein, wound healing can be delayed.

Protein is extremely important in wound healing. Patients with wounds require almost double the protein intake (1.2 to 1.5 g/kg/day) of those without wounds. All stages of wound healing require adequate protein. The basis of the human body structure, protein is responsible for making enzymes involved in wound healing, cell multiplication, and collagen and connective-tissue building.

Protein also promotes a positive nitrogen balance—and it’s the only nutrient that does this. Our patients need a positive nitrogen balance so new tissue can be made. When this occurs, the body is in an anabolic state, or a state of overall protein gain. If our patients don’t consume enough protein and negative nitrogen balance occurs, a catabolic state may develop in which no new tissue growth occurs, leading to a delay or halt in wound healing.

But getting the healthy individual to consume enough protein is a challenge. So how can you get your patients with wounds to consume an adequate amount? Are your dietitians giving these patients more supplements? Do you supplement the at-risk population as well? Do you have special feeding programs for patients who can’t feed themselves? Do you routinely use prescription medications for tissue rebuilding or appetite stimulation? Do you think patients understand how important protein is to wound healing? Do you provide this education to your patients?

DISCLAIMER: All clinical recommendations are intended to assist with determining the appropriate wound therapy for the patient. Responsibility for final decisions and actions related to care of specific patients shall remain the obligation of the institution, its staff, and the patients’ attending physicians. Nothing in this information shall be deemed to constitute the providing of medical care or the diagnosis of any medical condition. Individuals should contact their healthcare providers for medical-related information.

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