It is general knowledge that Vitamins play a major role in your general health, but did you know that you also need a right balance of minerals as well as vitamins for your teeth and gums to stay healthy?

There are many factors that prove the connection between oral health and overall health. Teeth are living structures that require nutrients just like any other tissue in the body in order to remain strong, inside and out.

The following Vitamins and minerals are essential for your dental health:

Calcium

Calcium helps harden your enamel and strengthen your jawbone. There is an increased risk in developing gum disease and tooth decay without adequate levels of Calcium.

Calcium is used throughout the body to make your muscles work and make your brain cells fire. ​To control calcium, the body depends on vitamin D.

Food source: cheese, yogurt, salmon, broccoli.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an important role in helping immune systems function. Low levels can lead to autoimmunity – when the immune system attacks healthy cells – and increase the chance of infection.

There is some evidence that gum disease (chronic inflammation) is related to vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and helps maintain oral health by aiding the body fight gum disease and inflammation.

Sunlight that is absorbed through the skin, boosts your immune system in many ways. Strong teeth and bones require many years of nourishment from sunlight derived vitamin D.

Vitamin D plays an important role in bone and tooth mineralization.

Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked with the development of childhood allergy.

Food source: 10-15 minutes of daily exposure to sunlight, cod-liver oil, fatty fish, organ meats, canned tuna, grass-raised dairy or egg yolks and portobello mushrooms.

Potassium

Potassium works with magnesium to prevent blood from becoming too acidic, which can leach calcium from your bones and teeth. Potassium also improves bone mineral density.

Food source: Beef liver, fish roe, egg yolks, bananas sweet potatoes and avocados

Phosphorus

Phosphorus supports calcium in building strong bones and teeth.

Food source: scallops, sardines, cod, shrimp, tuna, salmon and pumpkin seeds. You can also find phosphorus in beef and cheese.

Vitamin K

Severe Vitamin K deficiency can slow down your body’s healing process and make you more likely to bruise and /or bleed.

It also increases your risk for osteoporosis if you do not have sufficient Vitamin K levels as this vitamin helps block substances that break down bone. Vitamin K also helps your body produce osteocalcin, a protein that supports bone strength.

Food source: Beef liver, goose liver, butter, collards and spinach, other great sources include parsley, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.

Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body by:

  • Lowering production of inflammatory markers
  • Regulates the immune system
  • Decreasing fibroblast cells. Fibroblast are known to fuel the gum disease process
  • It activates Matrix GLA protein:

This Vitamin K2 dependent protein has been shown to prevent the calcification of the periodontal ligament. Many studies have shown that Vitamin K2 has the same anti-calcification effects around the body, including in the heart, kidneys and prostate.

Vitamin K2 is both an anti-inflammatory and bone-building agent within the body. Research now reveals vitamin K2 is crucial for strong teeth and bones, helping the growth of dentin in teeth. It activates proteins that without vitamin K2, don't carry minerals into teeth.

Food source: Vitamin K2 is primarily bacterial in origin and found in animal-based foods, such as cheese, cheese curd, fermented foods, egg yolk, whole milk, and in particular Natto (a traditional Japanese fermented soybean food). In addition, it is found in fatty meats and liver.

Vitamin C

This vitamin helps support the body’s entire immune system, including the function of protecting your teeth and gums by strengthening your gums and the soft tissue in your mouth. It can protect against gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, and can prevent your teeth from loosening.

A few outcomes that may develop due to the lack of vitamin C in your body include gingivitis, bleeding gums, weakened enamel and reduced ability to fight infections.

Food source: raw liver, fish roe, eggs, citrus fruits, and leafy greens.

Iron

The body uses iron to build and strengthen healthy skin, hair, nails, and teeth.

Common symptoms of anemia (iron deficiency) seen in the oral cavity includes aphthous ulcers, reduced number and size of taste buds, burning tongue and mouth, dry mouth and oral infections. Overall, without enough nutrients, the mouth becomes more prone to tooth decay and gum disease.

Infections that occur in your mouth can spread rapidly throughout the rest of the body, leading to further health problems.

Food sources: liver (but avoid this during pregnancy), red meat, oysters, canned sardines, nuts and Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach.

Vitamin A

This vitamin helps keep mucous membranes healthy. It prevents dry mouth and helps your mouth heal quickly.

Enamel hypoplasia (a developmental defect/impaired tooth formation affecting the permanent or primary teeth), is a clinical sign in the oral cavity of a possible Vitamin A deficiency.

Vitamin A is important for growth and development, immune system maintenance, and vision.

Food sources: fish, egg yolks, liver and leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and collard greens

Iodine

Iodine deficiency can have a direct impact on your dental health. The body does not naturally produce Iodine, so most Iodine in the body is provided through your diet.

Unfortunately, most people are iodine deficient as our diet has changed so much in the past 100 years, opening our bodies up to numerous health and dental problems.

Iodine builds the oral immune response. A deficiency may be one of the key factors to many oral infections due to its influence on the oral microbiome.

Due to endocrine dysfunction, lack of iodine in the body can lead to dry mouth. When your salivary flow decreases, you have an increased risk for cavities, gum disease with a compromised periodontal health. Iodine deficiency can also lead to mouth breathing, open bites and delayed tooth eruption.

Fatigue and weakness are also common symptoms of an iodine deficiency. It's estimated that 80% of people with low thyroid hormone levels, which occur in cases of iodine deficiency, feel tired, sluggish and weak.

Dry, flaky skin may affect many people as well as feeling cold with an iodine deficiency.

Unexpected weight gain is another sign of an iodine deficiency. ​It may occur if the body does not have enough iodine to make thyroid hormones.

Pregnant women are at a high risk of iodine deficiency.

Food source: Cod, Yogurt, Himalayan Rock Salt and Seaweed

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Dulene Swanepoel
Dental Hygienist (South Africa)