Do You Bruise Easily?

Taken directly from Xtra MSN: Natural Health. A bruise on the shin

Are you an easy bruiser? Do bruises just seem to appear, and you can't remember when you had a bump?

If so, you may be suffering from fragile blood capillaries, and possibly also poor blood clotting ability. Both problems are fixable by nutritional supplementation, and reducible in the longer term by better diet (although I'm not talking about clinical blood disorders such as haemophilia here).

However, if you had been a sailor a few hundred years ago, these problems would have been common on board ship on long journeys, as part of the picture of scurvy, which frequently led to severe debilitation and even death.

It was eventually realised that the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables was the main cause of scurvy. This discovery has been claimed by several of the seafaring nations, variously employing fresh or preserved fruit or vegetables, or extracts of trees and shrubs. Our English-speaking world mentions Captain Cook as the originator of the idea (with some help from inhabitants of visited countries, perhaps) but a French sea captain predated Captain Cook by a couple of hundred years by using a potion derived from the maritime pine to cure the scurvy that had decimated his crew.

Even before that, records show that the inhabitants of Asia, India and North America were well versed in the nutritional approach to scurvy and other diseases caused by similar nutritional deficiencies.

Our modern, presumed, access to plenty of fresh food can lull us into a false sense of security. Apart from the growing realisation that today's intensively-farmed foods no longer contain the full complement of vitamins and minerals that they did 50 years ago, most of us are not taking the time to obtain, prepare and eat the five-plus serves of fruit and veggies that we are told we need.

So it is hardly surprising that a lot of people suffer, to a greater or lesser degree, from the health problems caused by poor nutrition. Scurvy is an extreme example and now quite rare (although there was one case of scurvy reported in Auckland, New Zealand a few years ago), but easy bruising is surprisingly common among the people who visit my clinic.

Easy bruising is caused by the same nutritional deficiencies, notably vitamin C, bioflavonoids, antioxidants and polyphenols, in particular, in approximate chronological order of their discovery. These nutrients are now well known as antioxidants in general and are also needed to build the basic body tissue that goes to make and strengthen blood vessels - collagen and elastin. Other nutrients are also needed for healthy blood vessels, as well as for healthy blood.

If you suffer from easy bruising (and you are sure it is not due to some other serious organic disease) you must have a good look at your diet, because your health will suffer in other, more serious, ways if you let your body continue to deteriorate.

The basic requirement of five serves of fruit and veggies is barely adequate unless the produce is freshly picked and organic, and even that recommendation is being increased by various health authorities from time to time.

To have a real therapeutic impact on your problem, you also need to top up your empty tanks with good quality supplements. A bare minimum would be vitamin C plus bioflavonoids, in a dose that depends on your personal condition and lifestyle (more if you are under stress or smoke).

Consult a naturopath, and seek a holistic approach to your health problems following a personal consultation. You would almost certainly find that vitamin C and bioflavonoids were part of a prescription, which may also include other antioxidants.

I would also consider a supplement complex that was specifically targeted at rebuilding the tissue of the blood vessels, containing the appropriate amino acids for connective tissue repair, along with cofactors zinc and copper, and possibly calcium and magnesium; the best ones are practitioner-only products, so you don't see them in supermarket of health food shops.

One last cautionary note: if you are taking medication for heart and circulation conditions, check with your doctor in case the easy bruising is one of the side effects, and never mix these sorts of drugs with heart/circulation supplements unless you do it under professional supervision. Interactions can occur, and some people blame the drugs while others blame the supplements, but blaming is not as helpful as avoidance.

Be happy - be healthy.