As the Sunshine State, you’d think that people in Florida get a lot of vitamin D. In reality, about 38% to 40% can develop a deficiency by the end of winter, according to a 2005 study.
A body lacking in this vitamin can experience many health issues in the long-term. One of these is periodontal disease, which affects the gums.
The Vitamin D and Gum Connection
Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin you can get from different food sources, such as those fortified (or enriched with it). The best source, however, is sunlight.
When the sun hits the skin, its energy transforms into a chemical called D3. It then proceeds to the major organs, the liver and the kidneys, that convert it to active D, which the body can now use:
- It improves the absorption of calcium in the gut.
- It helps regulate the immune system.
- It also controls hormone levels, including managing stress hormones and reducing the risk of lower serotonin.
All these functions are essential to keeping your oral health in good condition. Here’s how:
1. Vitamin D Strengthens the Bones and Gums
Together with calcium and phosphorus, vitamin D strengthens the jawbone, which holds the teeth together, and keeps the gums in check. Otherwise, you are likely to develop malocclusion or teeth misalignment. You even have an increased risk of tooth loss.
2. You Lower the Risk of Bacterial Overgrowth
Your mouth contains thousands of bacteria, some of which can cause harm like periodontal disease when they overpopulate. Research showed that the chances of overpopulation increase when you have an abnormal immune response. In other words, your immune cells might not be able to control the bacterial overgrowth, or they can trigger it. With vitamin D, you can minimize these effects.
3. There’s a Link Between Hormones and Oral Health
Recent studies reveal that people with periodontal disease or oral problems can also have a higher risk of chronic conditions, such as heart disorders and diabetes. One possible reason is hormones.
Take, for example, diabetes. Those with this condition cannot control their blood sugar and insulin levels. At the very least, it can impair the immune system, so the body cannot fight oral pathogens. Further, it leads to diabetic neuropathy, and damaged blood vessels cannot deliver the right nutrients to the gums.
How to Improve Vitamin D Levels
When you have issues with teeth alignment, you can always visit an orthodontist who can provide you with appliances to correct it. However, you also need to pair it with healthy living, including enhancing your vitamin D levels:
- Spend at least 20 minutes under the sun. The best time is in the morning or before noon. While you’re at it, you can exercise, such as brisk walking. It helps reduce your weight or lower your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes.
- Supplement with vitamin D. Florida has the mildest winter, but it doesn’t mean you’ll receive as much sun as you do during summer. You can benefit from a vitamin D supplement, preferably D3.
- Eat foods rich in or fortified with vitamin D. Some of the best options are fatty fish like salmon, organ meats like liver, and fortified dairy products like cheese and milk.
Note, though, since this is a fat-soluble vitamin, you cannot go beyond what’s ideal for you. Check with your doctor to know your levels. Monitor for any signs of deficiency, including gum disease.