To keep your teeth and gums healthy, you should maintain your overall health. This means eating vitamin- and mineral-rich foods as part of a healthy diet.
Though overall health is connected to oral health, so all healthy foods will help protect your teeth and gums, certain vitamins and minerals are especially important for the health of your gums and teeth.
Below are five of the best vitamins and minerals for healthy teeth and gums, what foods contain these vitamins and minerals, and when you should consider taking them in supplement form.
Of course, make sure to check with a health professional before taking supplements, as some can be dangerous when taken in high doses.
As most people have heard while growing up, calcium helps build strong bones and provides structural support for your body. This includes your teeth and jawbone. Calcium helps strengthen your teeth and jawbone and also works to help prevent gum disease.
What to eat:
You can get your calcium from dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. You also get calcium from eating fish with the bones, like sardines. However, calcium is also found in beans, green leafy vegetables like kale, okra, and spinach, and fortified foods.
When to take calcium:
If you take calcium as a supplement, you should take it with food to allow stomach acid while eating to help your body absorb the calcium. You should also take calcium in smaller doses, usually less than 600 milligrams at once, to allow your body to absorb it properly.
2. Vitamin D
Vitamin D helps your body absorb the calcium and phosphorus in foods. Without it, your teeth are much more prone to decay and fracture, since you might not be absorbing other nutrients properly.
What to eat:
You can find vitamin D in foods like milk, egg yolks, fatty fish like mackerel, tuna, and salmon, cheese, and fortified foods. By spending a short amount of time in sunlight each day, you can help your body produce its own vitamin D as well.
When to take vitamin D:
You will absorb vitamin D better by pairing it with a meal of fatty foods like avocado or nuts. Many people prefer to take vitamins in the morning to easily incorporate it into their daily routine, but you can take vitamin D at any time with a fat-heavy meal.
Potassium helps to increase bone density (like tooth enamel) and promotes overall health. In fact, potassium can help reduce blood pressure, prevent stroke, and help prevent kidney stones and osteoporosis.
What to eat:
You’ll get potassium by eating fruits like bananas, oranges, cantaloupe, honeydew, apricots, grapefruit, and some dried fruits. You can also find potassium in cooked spinach and broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, legumes, dark leafy greens, avocados, peas, cucumbers, and mushrooms.
When to take potassium:
When you take potassium as a supplement, it’s best to take it within 30 minutes after a meal or bedtime snack. This will help to reduce the chances of an upset stomach. You should also avoid taking too much potassium and take it as directed by your doctor.
Phosphorus helps your body absorb calcium, which continues to help build strong bones and teeth. In fact, helping to form bones and teeth is one of the main functions of phosphorus. In addition, phosphorus helps the body create protein for the growth and repair of cells and tissues.
What to eat:
You can find phosphorus in protein-rich foods like dairy products, fish, meat, lentils, beans, whole grains, and nuts. Phosphorus is more easily absorbed when found in animal foods than it is when found in plant foods.
When to take phosphorus:
Only very few people need to take phosphorus as a supplement since most people get enough from the foods they eat. However, if you do take phosphates, it can be dangerous to take too much, so only take it as directed by a health professional.
5. Vitamin C
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, helps to prevent tooth decay and bleeding gums as a helper in the maintenance of bones, cartilage, and teeth. Vitamin C is also necessary for the growth, development, and repair of body tissues and is involved in helping the body form collagen, absorb iron, heal wounds, and regulate immune system function.
What to eat:
You can find vitamin C in foods like red pepper, tomato and tomato juice, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit, and several other fruits and vegetables, including kiwifruit, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, and cantaloupe.
When to take vitamin C:
Since vitamin C is water-soluble, you should take it on an empty stomach, likely the first thing in the morning or 30 minutes prior to a meal. If you’ve eaten, wait two hours before taking vitamin C. Other water-soluble vitamins that should be taken on an empty stomach include all B vitamins and folate, or folic acid.
For related reading, see our posts on topics of:
- Worst Foods for Your Teeth
- Food and Drinks Kids Should Avoid
- What Causes Bad Breath Even After Brushing Your Teeth
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