Gum disease and tooth decay obviously need to be treated aggressively to kill the bacteria and other pathogens that are causing these infections. Microbes infect the mouth – both the tooth structures and the gums – leaving destruction in their wake. What you put in your mouth to reduce that microbe population matters a great deal, how you fuel your body to help heal may matter even more! If you put bad fuel in your body, your body’s healing system can’t function as well. Today’s post will review some of the literature on ways to help the immune system to fight infection and stay healthy! I am not a nutritionist and encourage you to see your healthcare provider or registered dietitian to see exactly what supplements you, specifically, need. The following article is for your information to be an informed consumer.
Last month, after filling up my car, it started chugging and running rough. It did not dawn on me that I had caused it by “feeding” my car the wrong fuel until I went to fill up again. I realized my error- and it got me thinking: if my car is that sensitive to the change in fuel octane, what about our bodies? What happens to our body when we eat poorly? Can it play a role in how we fight infection? How about preventing the bacteria from entering our bodies in the first place? I’ve been doing some reading on nutrition to learn more about the answers to these questions and help my patients maintain their health.
Vitamin D 3
We had a guest speaker, Dr. Kantor, come talk with us this week at our monthly staff meeting. The presentation was on the healing benefits of vitamin D3. Dr. Kantor is a periodontist and interested in helping his patients heal their gums,and his talk was very interesting. He explained that vitamin D reduces inflammation. And, remember, if your gums are inflamed, your arteries are inflamed!! Vitamin D also helps your body use calcium to prevent bone loss ( that’s what we want in preventing periodontal disease!) Most people here in the USA are deficient in D 3 per the Endocrine Society. Their paper is worth reading. Very few foods contain this vitamin and those that do have a very low level, not enough to be beneficial. Sunshine is the best way to get your Vitamin D but those living above the 33 degree latitude are not going to get enough of this vitamin. In the absence of sun shine, you may well be deficient in this vital nutrient. See your healthcare provider, get tested and the supplement this vitamin to the level recommended.
The new guidelines from the Endocrine Society recommend different doses of vitamin D for those at risk of vitamin D deficiency:
- Age 0 to 1 year: 400 to 1,000 International Units (IU) daily
- Age 1 to 18 years: 600 to 1,000 IU daily
- All adults over age 18: 1,500 to 2,000 IU daily
- Pregnant or nursing women under age 18: 600 to 1,000 IU daily
- Pregnant or nursing women over age 18: 1,500 to 2,000 IU daily
Because fat stores vitamin D, obese people may need to take two or three times the usual dose of vitamin D.
Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids
|Or maybe not for Halloween…|
Long chain omega-3 fish oil is good for your health, actually it may well be a super supplement! Between protecting your eyes, your heart, decreasing inflammation, decreasing depression, enhancing fertility, controlling acne and even fighting wrinkles, how’s that for an incredible supplement!? And it does so much more. The latest research connects Omega 3 with reducing inflammation in periodontal disease. In a recent study, the participants took 2,000 mg of DHA (one of the types of omega 3 fatty acid) along with an 81 mg aspirin and they had a significant decease in gum bleeding and pocket depths. Click here or here for a detailed, easy to read articles on Omega 3. It can be found naturally in foods we all love- avocado, salmon, walnuts. The best source of this is from cold water seafood. However, do limit your intake of high mercury containing large-mouth fish to two to three serving per month ( i.e. tuna). Instead, look for wild salmon, sole, herring, and sardines to get your omega 3 naturally. If you supplement, be sure to use a quality fish oil. Be sure it does not taste rancid. Dr. Steven Masley, in his book The 30 Day Heart Tune-up recommends staying with these brands of fish oil to get the best quality: Thorne, Nordic Naturals, Metagenics, and Designs for Health.
Some folks call this mineral magnificent, and after doing some reading and research, I agree! It’s deficiency is connected to both tooth decay and gum disease. Teeth need both calcium, phosphorous and magnesium to make your tooth enamel hard. And, deficiency in magnesium is connected to low bone mass, i.e. periodontal disease, so supplementing with Mg may have beneficial side effects in reducing bone loss. Foods that contain magnesium: whole grain cereals, spinach, fish, and seafood, and nuts and seeds. Adult men need 400+ mg daily while women need around 320+ mg. My multivitamin only contains 50 mg per day so, I may well be switching that one! I do eat lots of almonds every day so before I up my magnesium intake I’ll get that checked during my next physical.
Vitamin C deficiency may be associated with the breakdown of gum tissue. Remember vitamin C deficiencies are connected to scurvy (something sailors got after months at sea): swollen, bleeding gums, as well as a whole host of other signs and symptoms such as making your capillaries fragile and susceptible to rupture. OUCH! Since gum disease is essentially a wound, and vitamin C helps wound heal, it’s important to get add this vitamin to your daily diet. Vitamin C is water soluble and is excreted daily so you must supplement daily (90 mg daily for men and 75 mg daily for women), or eat foods rich in vitamin C such as oranges, sweet potatoes, carrots and red peppers.
CoQ10 is a substance produced by our tissues that’s essential for energy production. Our cells need it to produce energy. Another function of CoQ10 is as an antioxidant. Deficiencies in CoQ10 have been linked to gum disease. Healing and repair of gum tissues requires energy. Our bodies can make sufficient quantities of CoQ10 while we are young. As we age, we are not able to make/produce optimal amounts of this to help with healing. Research has shown that in the gums of people with periodontal disease, there’s a deficiency of this enzyme. Food sources for CoQ10 – oily fish, organ meats and whole grains. I see a reoccurring theme here, I need to add much more fish to my diet! If you are deficient supplementing may help:
For adults 19 years and older: The recommended dose for CoQ10 supplementation is 30 – 200 mg daily. Soft gels tend to be better absorbed than capsules or other preparations. Higher doses may be recommended for specific conditions.
CoQ10 is fat-soluble, so it should be taken with a meal containing fat so your body can absorb it. Also, taking CoQ10 at night may help with the body’s ability to use it.
While I believe all these supplements are important in helping make the oral tissues stronger and healthier, I strongly recommend you see your healthcare provider to find the appropriate levels to fit your needs.
Healthy Food Choices
I know you would not intentionally eat a bowl of sugar for breakfast yet that is exactly what you do when you eat white bread, white rice, white flour pasta, or flour tortillas. Let’s change the image of sugar to any carbohydrate that spikes blood sugar levels. Carbohydrates break down to simple sugars in the body. Even your “whole grain” cereal can cause this spike if the grain has been ground to flour. If grain has been processed into flour, it acts like a refined carbohydrate on your blood sugar control. Sugar inflames your body, especially your arteries. Treat dessert as special, and occasional.
It’s time to look closely at your diet, and eat healthy foods. Strive for five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, along with clean protein and fiber. Healthy eating boosts your immune system. I’m reading Dr. Masley’s book and have already changed my eating habits. Join me in learning more about a healthier eating lifestyle. Dark chocolate and wine are still on his “okay” list. Thank goodness!
Recent research has connected exercise levels to decreases in gum disease. ‘Nuff said, just do it, you’ll feel better all over.
Before beginning any supplementation or vitamin program, please consult with your doctor. See what is appropriate for you. Some vitamins and supplements can have harmful interactions with certain medications.
Go get a wellness check up, chat with your doctor about what vitamins, minerals and other supplements you might benefit from on the road to becoming a healthier you. Remember, the right fuel is vital to keeping your body healthy.
Til next time,
A smile is a little curve that sets everything straight!