6 Supplements to Take When Preparing for Surgery

Young doctor dressed in scrubs

If you are preparing for surgery, supplements to take and to avoid are important to take into consideration.

The run-up to any form of surgery is, inevitably, a stressful experience, and the manner in which the body copes with and later recovers from the process is a real concern for anyone who is faced with the reality of undergoing surgery. Any surgery will have an impact on the body, requiring it to work harder and consume more energy to recover. The most effective way to enhance this recovery is to get your body as healthy as possible beforehand, whether it is a minor operation or a serious procedure. In addition, certain nutritional supplements offer one means by which the body can help prepare for and recover from surgery.

Taking supplements helps get your body into as healthy a state as possible, to prepare it for and recover from invasive surgery. Some have been clinically proven to help boost your body's ability to recover from surgery by helping to fight infection and reduce inflammation, rebuild cells and repair damaged tissue, heal wounds, build new collagen and generally to heal itself. Doctors recommend that these supplements be taken before you go under the knife, and for several weeks after the operation has been conducted.

Preparing for Surgery: Supplements to Take Prior to the Procedure

Vitamin C

This is an essential supplement to take prior to and after surgery, because the body's store of vitamin C may be depleted after surgery, hindering the healing process of your surgical wounds. Clinical studies have shown that taking vitamin C prior to surgery helps you get discharged from the hospital and helps you heal faster than those who do not.

  • Recommended dosage: 500 to 1000 milligrams of vitamin C a day in the week before surgery.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is another important nutritional supplement that nourishes new tissue, helping cell regeneration and growth. However, it is not recommended for pregnant women.

  • Recommended dosage: 10,000 to 25,000 IU a day, one week before surgery.

Iron Phosphate

Iron phosphate ( Ferrum phosphoricum) helps to ward off the surgical infections that tend to strike your immune system, which can be compromised by the surgical procedure. It is prepared as a homeopathic treatment by mixing iron sulfate, sodium acetate and phosphate.

  • Recommended dosage: 6X or 6C of Ferrum every six hours (four times a day), beginning two days before to surgery, and then stop taking it on the day of the surgery.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Studies show that these popular fish oil supplements may be beneficial in boosting the body's immune system. They also possess anti-inflammatory properties that help the natural healing process of acute wounds. Some experts recommend that they be taken in the period leading up to surgery, particularly for vascular surgery. However, there is disagreement over these findings and they remain controversial so you should only take them after consultation with your doctor.


Bromelain is an herbal supplement that has been proven to help reduce the pain, bruising and swelling that may result from surgery.

  • Recommended dosage: 500 to 1000 milligrams a day, one week before surgery.

Arnica Montana

Arnica Montana, an herb native to the Swiss Alps, is prepared as a homeopathic remedy that can be taken before and after surgery. It has been found to help heal the soreness, swelling and bruising of surgical wounds.

Safety First

When preparing for surgery, supplements to take should, ideally, be prescribed or recommended by a licensed healthcare professional. Consult with your doctor regarding any supplements you are taking or plan to take in the lead up to your surgery. This will help ensure that they will not have an adverse reaction to any other medication taken during and after surgery, or hinder your recovery from the surgery itself. Certain supplements may also skew the results of urine and blood tests, and may thus adversely affect the treatment given you. Carry the bottles of any supplements you are taking to the hospital with you.

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6 Supplements to Take When Preparing for Surgery