Posted on: 26 April 2016
Most people know that your diet has a big impact on the health of your teeth and gums. However, you may not know exactly what roles certain vitamins and minerals play in keeping your mouth healthy. Here are four vitamins and minerals that are essential to your oral health, as well as a few foods that are rich in each vitamin or mineral.
Calcium is one of the main structural elements of your tooth enamel, so it stands to reason that adequate calcium intake is necessary to maintain your tooth health. A calcium-rich diet will help your teeth resist decay. Additionally, calcium strengthens the tissues around the roots of your teeth, reducing the risk of tooth loss from gum or jawbone recession.
Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are likely the first sources of calcium that come to mind. If you are lactose intolerant or simply not fond of dairy products, there are several other calcium-rich foods that you can substitute. Salmon, sardines, cabbage, cauliflower, and other leafy greens all contain calcium. Beverages that contain calcium include fortified orange juice and soy milk.
Saliva plays an essential role in your mouth by washing away food particles and plaque from the surface of the dental enamel. While vitamin A is most commonly associated with vision and immune system health, it also stimulates the saliva glands to prevent dry mouth and plaque buildup. Vitamin A's immune-boosting properties promote healthy gums, allowing them to heal more quickly, and slow the rate of gum recession.
Fish, egg yolks, and liver all contain ample amounts of vitamin A. A wide variety of vegetables also serve as abundant sources of Vitamin A. These include leafy greens such as kale and spinach, as well as carrots, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and sweet potatoes. Some fruits also contain significant amounts of vitamin A, such as mangoes and cantaloupes.
While calcium plays a direct role in your oral health by strengthening teeth and connective tissues, vitamin D functions as an indirect helper. Small amounts of calcium are circulating in your blood at all times, and it is vitamin D's job to regulate these levels and enable your cells to absorb calcium.
People with an active, outdoor lifestyle may not need to worry about getting enough vitamin D in their diet at all. This is because your skin synthesizes vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight. Of course, including vitamin D in your diet is never a bad idea. Vitamin D can be found in fish oils, milk, mushrooms, and fortified breakfast cereals.
The soft tissues in your mouth need oxygen delivered by the bloodstream to fight against bacterial infections. Much like vitamin D regulates calcium circulation and intake, iron regulates oxygen circulation by allowing it to bond to hemoglobin inside of red blood cells. Without enough iron in your diet, canker sores can occur more frequently and cuts on the gums or inside the cheeks will be more prone to infection.
Meats have greater concentrations of iron than any other food group. These include red meat, pork, and fish. If you are a vegetarian, alternative sources of iron can help you avoid oral health problems caused by iron deficiency. Fortified cereals, whole-grain bread, and leafy greens are all iron-rich alternatives to meat that can be included in any diet.
A well-balanced diet will often contain all of the vitamins and minerals you need for good oral health. If you include these sources of tooth-friendly vitamins and minerals in your diet, you can keep your mouth healthy without the hassle or cost of taking vitamin and mineral supplements. If you have further questions about oral health, speak with a dentist.Share