With studies coming out everyday linking how important a healthy lifestyle is its no surprise to see changes in the diet choices of the general population. Besides overall health nutrition and dental health is also an important subject that many are not aware of. Vegetarians; whether lacto-vegetarians, ova-vegetarians, semi-vegetarians or vegans; as well as people dieting or radically changing their diet, should be more aware of the food they are eating to be sure they are including foods rich in the vitamins and minerals needed to keep your body healthy and your smile beautiful. Being a dentist we find that we see nutritional deficiencies apparent in the tissues of the mouth before you may notice them elsewhere. Some of the more important nutrients that may be neglected when changing your diet that are important for your oral and general health are:
- Calcium: This nutrient is very important for bone health, as well as helping to maintain healthy gums and reduce your risk for cavities. Calcium is typically found in leafy green vegetables, dairy products, as well as in legumes and some shellfish.
- Vitamin B12 and Vitamin B2: A deficiency in these two vitamins can cause mouth sores. Vitamin B2 can be found in milk and cheese, leafy green vegetables, beans, bananas, and almonds. Vitamin B12 can be found in some shellfish, cheese, and eggs.
- Niacin or Vitamin B3: A deficiency in this vitamin can cause bad breath and sores in the mouth. Niacin can be found in eggs, tuna, salmon and halibut, avocados, dates, leaf vegetables and various nuts and legumes
- Vitamin D: this nutrient helps with the absorption of calcium, when lacking vitamin D some may suffer from something called burning mouth syndrome which can cause and uncomfortable sensation of the tongue and mouth.
- Iron: a decrease in Iron can present itself as a sore inflamed tongue and may cause sores inside your mouth to form as well. Iron-rich foods are eggs, lentils and other dried beans, shrimp, cod and tuna, spinach, sweet potatoes, broccoli and peas. Accordingly foods that boost iron absorption the most are meat, a good iron supplement and foods high in vitamin C.
- Vitamin C: this vitamin is important for healing as well as general health a deficiency can present itself as bleeding gums and loose teeth. You can find vitamin C in Citrus fruits, sweet potatoes and red peppers.
- Some other important vitamins for oral health are Vitamins A, E and K.