When people think of nutrition and dental health, the nutrient that comes up most often is calcium. However, there's another nutrient that is vital for keeping your teeth and gums in tip-top shape: vitamin D. That's right – without the so-called sunshine vitamin, your dental health will suffer. Here's a closer look.
What role does vitamin D play in keeping your teeth and gums healthy?
Your teeth are largely comprised of calcium and phosphorus. But, vitamin D plays an important role in laying down that calcium and phosphorus to make your teeth nice and strong. It also helps regulate the immune system and protect against inflammation, so you don't fall prey to issues like gum disease and tooth decay, which are caused by infectious bacteria.
What happens if you don't get enough vitamin D?
Without enough vitamin D, your teeth will slowly weaken over time since your body won't be able to properly deposit calcium and phosphorus in your tooth enamel. This may result in an increase in cavity formation, as the bacteria that cause tooth decay have an easier time eating through thin enamel. Plus, with the weakened immune system that comes with a low vitamin D intake, your body will have a harder time fighting off these bacteria. You may also develop gum disease – and infection of the gums caused by these same bacteria. This leads to bleeding gums, soreness, and if left unaddressed, loose and lost teeth.
How much vitamin D do you need?
For those between the ages of 1 and 70, the RDA for vitamin D is 600 IU. Breastfeeding and pregnant women, as well as anyone over the age of 70, should aim for 800 IU. If you are taking anti-seizure medications, have been diagnosed with heart disease, or have an autoimmune condition, your needs might be different; speak with a doctor or dietician to determine your needs.
How can you get more vitamin D?
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because your body manufactures it when you're exposed to natural sunlight. Thus, and easy way to get more is to spend more time outside in the sun. If it's cloudy and cold where you live, you can increase your intake by eating more of the following foods:
- Egg Yolks
- Milk (most is fortified with vitamin D)
If you have been suffering from a lot of cavities and gum troubles lately, perhaps increasing your vitamin D intake will help. And if your teeth are healthy, getting plenty of vitamin D will help keep them that way. Talk to a dentist, like DSW Dental, for more information.