Eating a vitamin-C rich diet can help prevent bleeding gums, says study

Save a trip to the dentist by fortifying your diet with vitamin C, as a study suggests that bleeding gums can be a sign of low levels of this vitamin.
Gum problems can cause toothache
Gum problems can cause toothache. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
ANI Published: 8 Feb 2021, 07:25 pm IST
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There are many benefits to a diet that is rich in vitamin C. But did you know that consuming this vitamin also comes with oral health benefits?

A new study, that explored the added advantages of vitamin C consumption, suggests that adding it to your daily diet could work wonders in healing bleeding gums.

If your gums bleed, make sure you are brushing and flossing twice a day because it could be a sign of gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease. However, you should also check your intake of vitamin C, as per the study.

The findings of the study, led by the University of Washington, were published in the journal Nutrition Reviews.

“When you see your gums bleed, the first thing you should think about is not, I should brush more. You should try to figure out why your gums are bleeding. And vitamin C deficiency is one possible reason,” said the study’s lead author Philippe Hujoel, a practicing dentist and professor of oral health sciences in the UW School of Dentistry.

The link between bleeding gums and vitamin C

Hujoel’s study analysed published studies of 15 clinical trials in six countries, involving 1,140 predominantly healthy participants, and data from 8,210 U.S. residents surveyed in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The results showed that bleeding of the gums on gentle probing, or gingival bleeding tendency, and also bleeding in the eye, or retinal haemorrhaging, were associated with low vitamin C levels in the bloodstream. And, the researchers found that increasing the daily intake of vitamin C in those people with low vitamin C plasma levels helped to reverse these bleeding issues.

Of potential relevance, said Hujoel, who is also an adjunct professor of epidemiology in the UW School of Public Health, both a gum bleeding tendency and retinal bleeding could be a sign of general trouble in one’s microvascular system, of a microvascular bleeding tendency in the brain, heart, and kidneys.

The study does not imply that successful reversing of an increased gingival bleeding tendency with vitamin C will prevent strokes or other serious health outcomes, Hujoel stresses.

bleeding gums
From strengthening bones and teeth to preventing heart conditions, calcium is the magic mineral that we need in our diet. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

However, the results do suggest that vitamin C recommendations designed primarily to protect against scurvy—a deadly disease caused by extremely low vitamin C levels—are too low and that such a low vitamin C intake can lead to a bleeding tendency, which should not be treated with dental floss.

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Keep an eye on your vitamin C intake

Hujoel recommends people should keep an eye on their vitamin C intake through the incorporation of non-processed foods such as kale, peppers, or kiwis into your diet. And if you can’t find palatable foods rich in vitamin C to consider a supplement of about 100 to 200 milligrams a day.

If someone is on a specialised diet, such as a paleo diet, it’s important that they take a look at their vitamin C intake, Hujoel said. “Vitamin C-rich fruits such as kiwis or oranges are rich in sugar and thus typically eliminated from a low-carb diet.”

This avoidance may lead to a vitamin C intake that is too low and is associated with an increased bleeding tendency. People who exclusively eat lean meats and avoid offal, the vitamin-rich organ meats, may be at particularly high risk for a low vitamin C intake.

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