Several research experiments have demonstrated how poor nutrition and vitamin deficiencies during tooth development can impair the structure of the tooth, and increase the risk of tooth decay.
Tooth cavities, otherwise known as decay, are an effect of demineralised enamel and dentine. (see picture below).
Here are some essential vitamins and minerals to support your body to protect against tooth decay:
A deficiency of Vitamin A leads to impaired epithelial cells, which are responsible for secreting calcium, phosphate, magnesium and carbonate ions that help form enamel and a healthy tooth. A vitamin A deficiency results in poor enamel, enamel with pits, or enamel with increased porosity. In severe cases, the whole tooth may be rough.
Vitamin D is essential for calcium and phosphate to function adequately in the body, both of which are essential for the normal formation of tooth enamel. Studies found that children with high levels of vitamin D had a lower incidence of dental cavities.
Vitamin K (1 & 2)
Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble vitamins that are essential for human health. Vitamin K has two forms: vitamin K1 and vitamin K2.
The most nutritionally important of these two forms is vitamin K2. It assists with calcium absorption – transporting calcium to the bones and teeth, improving bone density, dental health, and cardiovascular health. When calcium is not absorbed into the bones and teeth, it is deposited into the arteries and joints. This can cause tooth decay, osteoporosis, osteopenia, heart disease, gall stones and kidney stones.
Experimental studies have also found a deficiency of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) increases the susceptibility to dentine damage. The reason is that the very cells that help build dentine are directly influenced by ascorbic acid supply, hence low vitamin C means a low number of these dentine producing and protecting cells.
Magnesium, Selenium and Zinc
The focus of ‘healthy’ teeth and bones ‘ is often calcium. However, it’s important to realise magnesium plays an important role in many aspects of our health as well, not just for energy, muscles and nerves but also for calcium absorption and balance.
Selenium is also an important anti-oxidant while zinc is a critical mineral for many biochemical pathways in the body, including important anti-viral properties. Unfortunately, because of our ancient soils and the often poor farming practices in Australia, most soils are deficient in these minerals and supplementation may be required.
What you can do to minimise vitamin deficiencies…
A nutrient-dense diet is the key… meaning your food will contain many and more of the nutrients we have just mentioned here, especially when grown in healthy soils. Consuming food in its natural form is the best way to prevent tooth cavities and disease in general. You can learn more about the diet we recommend at SHDC here.
- A diet rich in fruits, vegetables and good quality protein will ensure you receive essential vitamins and minerals.
- To increase vitamin A levels, focus on carrots, sweet potato, spinach and broccoli all cooked in butter, beef liver is also a great source.
- Fruits such as oranges, strawberries and kiwi, and vegetables like capsicum, kale and Brussels sprouts are great sources of Vitamin C.
- Consume oily fish such as sardines and mackerel to increase your Vitamin D intake. Small exposure to UV light will also increase your Vitamin D levels.
- Vitamin K2 is found in animal-based products from animals raised on healthy soils… pasture-raised.
Regular visits to the dentist and hygienist are essential for protection against tooth decay. A practitioner will examine your teeth and identify any problem areas.
To read more about nutrition and tooth decay check out the Weston A. Price Foundation.