There are 13 vitamins: Vitamin A, B (8 varieties), C, D, E, K. They have essential roles in keeping our bodies in good shape. Among them, Vitamin D plays a vital role in regulating the absorption of calcium and phosphorous. It is a fat-soluble compound.
Getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D is essential for normal growth and development of bones and teeth and improved resistance against certain diseases.
If your body does not get enough vitamin D, you will not be able to absorb enough calcium to develop healthy bones and joints. People who have been deficient in this for many years are more like to get bone-related conditions such as osteoporosis or arthritis. Furthermore, people with low vitamin D intake are more likely to experience pain in the bones and joints.
Impact of vitamin D on caries development
Teeth and jawbones are also affected by vitamin D serum level. The mineralization of teeth and jawbones during gestation happens during the second and third trimester. Maternal vitamin D deficiency during those periods can cause enamel hypoplasia. This is characterized by deficient, pitted, and rough enamel surfaces. These deformities increase the chances of bacteria colonization on teeth and the difficulties in cleaning the teeth. Aside from other predisposing factors like milk before sleeping without cleaning teeth, there is a strong correlation between maternal vitamin D deficiency and early childhood caries (ECC).
In children between age six and eleven, several studies in Canada and Sweden have concluded that there is a significant inverse relationship between vitamin D level in the body and caries development. Overall, the pool of literature suggests that adequate vitamin D levels may play a role in caries prevention.
Role of vitamin D in caries reduction
The first mechanism is the proper mineralization and formation of the enamel, dentin, and the teeth supporting bone during the gestational periods. With smooth enamel surfaces that are dense and well mineralized, the teeth surfaces are less ‘sticky” to bacteria colonies (plaque), easier to be cleaned, and more acid-resistant.
The second mechanism is through the activation of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) such as cathelicidins and defensins. The increase in those AMPs in the oral epithelial cells, salivary ducts, and saliva lyse (break down) the oral bacteria to a significant degree and hence reduce caries.
The third mechanism is the increase in salivary flow rate and increased calcium content in the saliva. A deficiency of vitamin D can decrease the salivary flow by 65%. Therefore, vitamin D regulates salivary flow rate and quality.
Vitamin D has consistently shown protective effects against caries development.
Normal Vitamin D level
The recommended daily vitamin D intake is 400 to 600 International Units (IU) per day for all children and adults.
The optimal amount of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) is 75 nmol/L. People with less than 50 nmol/L are at risk of inadequacy to deficiency.
Other benefits of vitamin D
Besides the protective effects against dental cavities, vitamin D also has several other roles in keeping us healthy.
If you do not have enough vitamin D, you will not absorb enough calcium to develop healthy bones and joints. People who have been deficient in vitamin D for many years are much more likely to suffer from bone-related conditions such as osteoporosis or arthritis. Further, studies have revealed that people who lack a healthy vitamin D intake are more likely to experience pain in the bones and muscles of their legs, ribs, or in their joints.
When these conditions happen in children, they are called rickets. Symptoms of rickets are in the following symptoms: bowed legs, stunted growth, bone pain, large forehead, and trouble sleeping. In severe cases, complications like bone fractures, muscle spasms, an abnormally curved spine, or intellectual disability may happen.
It facilitates normal immune system functions by invigorating and mobilizing T-cells during attacks from pathogens like viruses and bacteria. Yes, there have been some implications of its essential role in fighting influenza and COVID-19.
Studies have suggested that higher vitamin D levels are associated with a reduced risk for developing multiple sclerosis (MS) and its symptoms.
Another common symptom of vitamin D deficiency is depression, including chronic fatigue, anxiety, and fibromyalgia. A simple increase in the amount of vitamin D intake will often be enough to minimize depressive symptoms and chronic fatigue. Unfortunately, the deficiency in vitamin D was often overlooked by doctors before antidepressants were prescribed.
A deficiency in vitamin D increases the chance of heart disease and decreases the bodies’ ability to heal.
A small amount of research on hair loss among women indicates that low vitamin D levels can contribute to premature hair loss.
Vitamin D is vital in maintaining proper metabolism, and without it, people are more likely to exhibit a higher frequency of weight gain and obesity.
Sources of vitamin D
It is well known that the body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors.
But between October and early March, we do not get enough vitamin D from sunlight in North America, so foods are one of the sources besides supplements in vitamin pills.
Food sources include:
- oily fish – such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel
- red meat
- egg yolks
- fortified foods – such as some fat spreads and breakfast cereals