Vitamin C isn’t just about supporting your immune system – it could help boost your smile and gum health too.
Vitamin C has several roles in the body, from helping to protect our cells to supporting the immune system.
But scientists now think it also plays an important role in our dental health, particularly looking after our gums.
What is vitamin C?
Our bodies need vitamin C to make collagen, an important protein found in the skin, blood, bones and muscles, and which is essential for wound-healing.1
Our immune system is vital for fighting against infection and disease. Vitamin C supports the immune system and is a powerful antioxidant – helping to protect our cell membranes from damage caused by free radicals.2
As vitamin C is water-soluble, we can’t store it in our bodies so must get it from our diets or in a supplement every day.3
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It’s important for gum health
Experts think vitamin C is an important weapon in the fight against gum disease. A study published in Clinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology in 2003 found that patients with a common type of gum disease called periodontitis also had lower levels of vitamin C in their blood.4
Periodontitis is a serious inflammation of the gums. It affects the tissues that surround the teeth, and if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss.5
A lack of vitamin C isn’t involved in the development of the disease, but it’s thought that our bodies need extra vitamin C when we get ill and for tissue repair. So getting enough of the nutrient may help your gums defend themselves and recover faster.6
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A vitamin C deficiency can cause bleeding gums
If you don’t get enough vitamin C over several months, you become at risk of scurvy – an illness that was once common on 19th-century sailors.
Symptoms of scurvy include bleeding, swollen gums, and loosened teeth.7,8,9 Other signs are tiredness, poor wound healing, red or purple spots on the skin, and joint pain.
The good news is scurvy is very rare today, and if you’re eating a healthy balanced diet, you should be getting enough vitamin C.10
Tuck into vitamin C
Help your gums by eating more vitamin C. The following fruits and vegetables are all rich in this important nutrient:11
- citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruits
- red and green peppers
- kiwi fruit
- baked potatoes
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies.
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1. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin C. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/
2. As Source 1
3. Colorado State University. Water-soluble Vitamins: B-complex and Vitamin C. Available from: http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/nutrition-food-safety-health/water-soluble-vitamins-b-complex-and-vitamin-c-9-312/
4. Pussinen PJ, et al. Periodontitis is Associated with a Low Concentration of Vitamin C in Plasma. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC193894/
5. NHS Choices. Gum disease complications. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/gum-disease/complications/
6. As Source 4
7. As Source 1
8. BBC News. Is scurvy making a comeback? Available from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-35380716
9. Medical News Today. Everything you need to know about scurvy. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/155758.php
10. As Source 1
11. Omori K, et al. Gingival overgrowth caused by vitamin C deficiency associated with metabolic syndrome and severe periodontal infection: a case report. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4270712/