Best vitamins for gum health

Best vitamins for gum health

Gums are an integral part of the teeth and mouth, and their health is critical for the health of the teeth. Gingivitis and periodontitis are the two most common problems related to gums. In the United States, 42% of people over 30 suffer from periodontitis. Despite maintaining good oral hygiene, an adequate supply of vitamins is essential for the day-to-day wear and tear of the gums. The vitamin plays a critical role in the well-being of the oral structures, especially the gums.

Vitamins are micronutrients required by the body in minor quantities. They play a significant role in metabolism and maintenance of tissue function. Until the middle of the 18th century, several mouth diseases, such as periodontitis, were considered a consequence of vitamin deficiency. So, let’s dive into the details of best vitamins for gum health.

What do vitamins do?

Vitamins catalyze different metabolic reactions using energy released from the macronutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. A certain vitamin deficiency halts a particular body reaction or shifts it in a different direction, leading to numerous symptoms and health problems.  

Vitamins have anti-inflammatory and reparative functions. They protect the gums from bacterial infections by enhancing the function of white blood cells. They promote the white cell ability to engulf bacteria and enhance their movement toward the area of infection. 

Vitamins are antioxidants and inhibit the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), reducing the production of inflammatory markers and bacterial toxins.  

Before going into the detail of best vitamins for gum health, let’s look at the factors that can lead to vitamin deficiencies in people with healthy diet.

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Why are you deficient in vitamins despite eating a healthy diet? 

Gut health

In this era of bursting knowledge, we all have a general idea of the foods that are best for our health and foods that should be avoided. Concentrating on the food, we often forget our gut health, which is critical for the absorption of food. It’s commonly quoted misnomers that “you are what you eat,” but more precisely, “you are what you absorb.” A healthy gut is paramount for the absorption of food. Leaky gut or inflammatory gut diseases lead to vitamin deficiency even though you are eating a healthy diet. 

Gluten in wheat and casein in dairy are the most common foods that lead to leaky gut and should be avoided. Probiotics and fiber-rich foods promote the replication of gut friendly bacteria and should be added to the diet. 

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Role of teeth in nutrient absorption

Teeth play a critical role in vitamin absorption. Teeth break down the food into a fine mesh, increasing the surface area of the food to allow enzymes to act upon it. This whole process extracts the nutrients from the foods.

The chewing process also stimulates the enzymes (salivary amylase and lingual lipase) that breaks down long-chain carbohydrates and fats and convert them into simple compounds. However, major enzymatic food breakdown takes place in the small intestine. For the same reason, people with no teeth or missing molars frequently suffer from vitamin deficiency. 

Quality of food we eat and its influence on our body

These days, our diet doesn’t provide enough vitamins to meet the body’s needs as the soil they are grown in is deprived of nutrients. Every year, two crops are harvested from the same soil, and frequent crop harvesting robs the soil of its nutrients. The quality of plant food produced depends upon the quality of the grown soil.

Most of the meat (animal food) in the market is grain-fed. These animals are fed on soy and corn grains. Hormones, antibiotics, and drugs are also given to them to accelerate their growth. 

Organic plant foods and grass-fed meat have a better nutrition profile. Still, organic foods and grass-fed meat are expensive and aren’t produced massive quantities to meet the population’s needs. So, you need to take supplements to prevent these deficiencies. Staying away from sugar, fast, and processed foods is also essential for healthy gums. 

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Best vitamins for gum health

There are a bunch of vitamins you need either from food or supplements. Relying solely on supplements and eating junk food won’t help you much. The following vitamins are needed for healthy gums, and their deficiency can lead to gazillions of health problems: 

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin available in two forms: retinoids, biologically active form of vitamin A soured from animals and β-carotene and β- cryptoxanthin, a plant-based precursor of vitamin A. It is essential for the maintenance of mucosal tissues and regulates cell differentiation. It is also necessary for the development of teeth and gums and maintaining periodontal health.

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Vitamins B

A good supply of vitamin B is essential for the healthy gums. Thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folic acid (B9), and cyanocobalamin (B12) makes water soluble vitamin B complex.

Vitamin B1, known as thiamin, keeps the nervous system healthy. Nerves can’t store energy and require a constant supply to function properly. Vitamin B1 is a crucial molecule that converts carbohydrates into energy. Vitamin B1 deficiency leads to increased sensitivity in oral tissues that appears as tongue inflammation (glossitis), mucosal inflammation (mucositis), loss of appetite, and increased incidence of herpes.

Several studies have shown the importance of vitamins B1, B2, B6, B9 (folic acid), and B12 for healthy gums. In a study, folic acid supplementation has shown improvement and delayed the onset of phenytoin-induced gingival (gum) overgrowth. Also, folic acid supplementation demonstrated marked improvement in gum health in smokers than non-smokers, which could suggest that smoking depletes folic acid from the body.

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Folic acid and B12 are required for healthy red blood cell formation. Folic acid increases elasticity in the red blood cells (elastic biconcave discs) and its deficiency leads to megaloblastic anemia. In megaloblastic anemia, the large, round, fragile, circulating inelastic red cells break when passed through the spleen, a sieve-like structure. 

Folic acid deficiency is common among people because of the low folic acid storage capacity in the body, which probably lasts for four months. Hence, you need a regular supply of folic acid in the diet.

Add activated B-complex supplement to your diet as they have better absorption. B-vitamins work synergistically to support energy, metabolism, make new proteins and repair DNA, so it’s best to take B-complex than individual B vitamins unless prescribed by your dentist. For instance, folic acid works with B6 and B12 to breakdown homocysteine, a byproduct formed after red meat metabolism, and control the build of atherosclerosis plaque inside the blood vessels, dementia and stoke.

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Vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential for collagen production, and collagen is an integral part of gums. Therefore, the risk of bleeding gums and inflammation increases in people who are deficient in vitamin C. Vitamin C supplementation or intake in food reduces the toxic effects of bad bacteria on fibroblasts (repair, and collagen-producing cells) and reduces gum bleeding in patients suffering from gingivitis and periodontitis. 

Vitamin C is available in chewable and swallowable tablets. It’s best to take swallowable tablets because chewable tablets have a pH of 2, lower than the critical pH of the mouth (5.5), and frequent intake of chewable vitamin C is known to cause tooth erosion. 

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, so you’re unlikely to get vitamin C toxicity because the excess vitamin C is excreted in the urine. You can safely take up to 4000mg of vitamin C per day. Citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, capsicum, broccoli, and kiwi fruit are high in vitamin C. Kiwi fruit is considered one of the best sources of vitamin C. One kiwi contains 64 gm of vitamin C, compared to 30gm in a cup of blackberries. The vitamin C absorption is maximum during the daytime, especially after breakfast or as a midday snack. 

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Vitamin D 

vitamin D, a sunshine hormone, plays a crucial role in several body reactions, especially activating the innate arm of immunity. Vitamin D enhances the ability of macrophages (a white blood cell) to engulf bacteria, move to the site of bacterial invasion, and activate 1-α-hydroxylase, an enzyme, in monocytes (white blood cells). 

Vitamin D reduces the production of inflammatory mediators such as interleukin 1, 6, and 17, RANKL, and T-helper cells and reduces the incidence of periodontitis. 

During pregnancy, there is an increased demand for all the macro and micronutrients. Low vitamin D levels increase the risk of gingivitis and periodontitis which are primarily caused by fluctuations in women’s hormones.

Small quantities of vitamin D, secreted by kidneys, regulate the calcium levels in the blood and strengthen teeth and bones. Large amounts of vitamin D are formed under the skin; the sunlight converts cholesterol persecutor, 7- dehydrocholestrol, into vitamin D. It is safe to take 1000-4000IU of vitamin D daily for healthy gums and teeth. 

Moreover, vitamin D deficiency reduces bone density and, consequently, osteoporosis, gingivitis, and periodontitis. 

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Vitamin E

Vitamin E, an antioxidant, increases the production of superoxide dismutase enzyme that breaks down superoxide (O2  – oxygen with a negative ion), an oxygen-free radical molecule, into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide in fibroblasts. It also decreases the production of inflammatory mediators such as interleukin 6 and interleukin-1β. It stimulates the growth and migration of fibroblasts. It reduces the activity of bacterial lipopolysaccharide, a fat barrier that gives integrity to cells and prevents the permeability of toxins to kill them. 

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Vitamin K and fiber intake 

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps in clothing. It is required for the synthesis of several clotting factors (proteins) in the liver to make a stable clot and stop the bleeding.

Vitamin K1 (phytonadione) and dietary fiber are critical in preventing and delaying the onset of periodontitis. Green leafy and cruciferous vegetables are rich in fiber and vitamin K1. These include kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard green, broccoli, beetroots, natto, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts. Fermented foods and animal products are a good sources of vitamin K2 (menaquinone).

Best vitamins for gum health

Dietary fibers increase the insulin sensitivity and decrease the oxidative stress and production of inflammatory mediators (substances). Also, gut bacteria feeding on dietary fiber produce short-chain fatty acids that reduce inflammation.

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A healthy ratio of omega 3 and 6 fatty acid consumption

Fats are an essential component of the biological membranes covering our cells, so consuming good fats is critical to the diet. Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids aren’t synthesized enough by the body and should be taken in diet. 

Animal sources such as cod liver oil fatty fish (sardines, tuna, mackerel, and salmon) contain omega 3 in the form of EPA and DHA, while plant-based omega 3 such as chia seeds, flax seeds, and nuts contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA); Omega 6 from seed oils (sunflower, corn, and soybean oil) contains linoleic acid. 

Inside the body, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based omega 3, is changed to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) by enzymatic action, two long-chain fatty acids with an anti-inflammatory action. On the contrary, linoleic acid (omega 6) is converted to arachidonic acid (AA) in the body, a precursor to various inflammation-inducing substances. Therefore, the ratio of omega 6: omega 3 is essential for health, and increased consumption of omega 3’s protects the body against inflammation. 

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The healthy omega 6: omega 3 is 1:1 or 4:1. The western diet typically has omega 6 and 3 in the ratio of 15:1 to 17:1. The conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is only 10-15%, so you must ensure you have enough EPA and DHA in your diet. 

An increased consumption (1000-3000mg) of omega 3 shows improvement in periodontitis in 3-6 months if oral hygiene is maintained. Omega 3 takes a long to incorporate into the cells and show results. 

Omega 3 intake decreases the strains of bacteria involved in periodontitis, reduces the activity of bone resorptive cells, and increases the phagocytic (killer) function of white blood cells. 

It is safe to take 1000mg of omega-3 daily. Also, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends not to exceed more than 3000mg/day of omega 3 supplementation (EPA and DHA combined).  

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