Vitamin D and Gum Disease
Gum disease simply put, occurs when the gums around the teeth become infected and begin to swell. Although there are a few factors that can result in this disease like age, obesity and stress, Vitamin D is proven to be the largest cause.
Vitamin D is referred to as the “Sunshine Vitamin” and it is produced primarily from your body having direct contact with sunlight. According to the Journal of Periodontology, vitamin D is as important as calcium for your teeth. Bone loss as well as an increase in inflammation can occur if your body has vitamin D or calcium deficiency.
What Is Gum Disease
Gum disease is caused by bacterial infections that if you ignore and do not treat can cause damage to the bone and result in tooth loss. Speaking technically, the molecules that have a destructive effect on your body are from Proinflammatory Cytokines. Vitamin D has protects your body against the Cytokins that lead to gum disease.
How Does Vitamin D Work?
Your body goes through a very long process utilizing vitamin D. The vitamin acts like a hormone, even though it is considered what is called a fat-soluble vitamin. It works with a parathyroid hormone (PTH) in your body to maintain healthy levels of calcium in your blood.
If you have low levels of calcium in your blood then PTH is secreted from your parathyroid gland and the some of the vitamin D that is in your body is transformed into Calcitriol. This actually causes your intestines to absorb calcium so then your kidneys eventually increase calcium levels in your blood. Once the calcium level becomes high in your blood, the Calcitiol decreases, causing your intestines to absorb calcium, resulting in your bones fighting over the calcium that is left.
When the vitamin D levels remain low in your body, the parathyroid gland becomes overactive so the PTH levels rise and the phosphorus in blood drops. Without enough phosphorus, the new bone cells absorb more water and swell. This is where the inflammation comes from.
How Do You Obtain Vitamin D?
According to the National Institute of Health, 10 to 15 minutes of outdoor activity a couple of times a week is all you really need. If you live somewhere that is always cloudy or full of smog, then vitamin D can be received by consuming milk, eggs and fish, primarily salmon, shrimp and sardines.
Who's at Risk for Gum Disease?
Primarily, gum disease attacks people over 50 years old. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, men with lower levels of vitamin D have a 61% higher risk of obtaining gum disease while women of the same age were at a 74% higher risk.
Also, if you are African American, you need even more sunlight to produce enough vitamin D because darker skin has more melanin which makes it harder it is for your body to absorb vitamin D.
If you are over the age of 50, have darker skin, stress in your life or obesity then you need to start making positive changes now to ensure the health of your teeth and gums later.
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