Have you been outside today? The health benefits — both mental and physical — add up quickly the more time you spend with Mother Nature. This includes much-needed access to vitamin D. The "sunshine vitamin" plays an important role in your overall health and provides great benefits for your teeth and gums. Learn more about vitamin D and how it impacts your oral health.
The Benefits of Vitamin D for Your Teeth and Overall Oral Health
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps your body absorb calcium, an important component for building strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D is unique in that it's both a nutrient you can obtain from food and a hormone your body can make when your skin is exposed to the sun. In addition to strengthening your bones, vitamin D plays a part in other body functions — from helping your muscles move to supporting your immune system. In fact, the tissues throughout your body contain receptors for vitamin D, suggesting it has an even greater role in overall health than we know.
Because vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, it's essential for healthy teeth and gums. Researchers have linked a vitamin D deficiency to two main oral issues:
- Tooth Decay. As stated before, vitamin D plays a key role in absorbing and retaining calcium and phosphorous for bone and tooth mineralisation. When your vitamin D levels are unregulated, it weakens your teeth, making you highly susceptible to cavities, fractures, and decay. According to a research study published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, dental caries which is also known as tooth decay is one of the most common and prevalent problem that can occur in the mouth. This is usually caused by bacteria which causes deterioration of hard tissues of the teeth. Research shows that vitamin D supplements can help reduce the occurrence of dental caries.
- Periodontitis. A research study published in the SRM Journal of Research in Dental Sciences notes that the Vitamin D is essential for the maintenance of periodontal health. Adequate levels of the vitamin have a “perio-protective” effect and can decrease susceptibility to periodontal diseases. Though it's not fully understood, vitamin D seems to positively impact inflammation and mineralisation effects on the tissue surrounding your teeth.
Learn more about which vitamins are good for teeth and gums.
Since tooth decay and gum disease are two of the most prevalent oral health issues, you might want to check in on your vitamin D levels. According to an article published in the Economic Times, a 2019 pan-India study found that 70-90 per cent of Indians are deficient of the vitamin D. You can determine your vitamin D levels through a simple blood test. If you're concerned about your vitamin D intake, talk to your primary care physician about pursuing lab work.
According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, for most adults, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) is 400 - 600 IU. For adults over 70, the RDA is 800 IU. Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel, as well as fish liver oils, are excellent natural sources of Vitamin D. Cheese and egg yolks contain small quantities of vitamin D. Milk, cereals and juices are fortified with vitamin D. Regular sun exposure is the most natural way to get enough vitamin D. To maintain healthy blood levels, aim to get 10-30 minutes of midday sunlight, several times per week.
If your physician has diagnosed you with a vitamin D deficiency, you can increase your vitamin D intake in three ways:
- Spend more time in the sun. The exact amount of time varies depending on your skin tone, time of day, time of year, and how much skin is exposed. However, sunscreen does prohibit vitamin D production, so remember that too much sun exposure can cause the skin to burn and even lead to skin cancer.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin D. Foods like cod liver oil (34 mcg per tablespoon), trout (16.2 mcg per 3 ounces), and salmon (14.2 per 3 ounces) provide the most vitamin D per serving. But if fish isn't a staple of your diet, milk and cereals often come fortified with vitamin D as well.
- Try a vitamin D supplement. If your lab work shows a vitamin D deficiency and you're struggling to get all you need through diet and sunlight, you might ask your primary care physician about a vitamin D supplement. They can recommend the proper dosage based on your unique needs.
You probably don't need another reason to go outside and enjoy the sun today. While you're soaking up some sun rays, definitely stop and think about how amazing it is your body can turn sunlight into vitamin D, which is critical for bone, tooth, and gum health. If you're concerned about your vitamin D levels, see your primary care physician and discuss your options. Between sunlight, food, and supplements, you can get the vitamin D you need for a strong and healthy smile.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.