Vitamin D, also referred to as the sunshine vitamin is one of the essential vitamin required for the smooth functioning of several systems in the body. Vitamin D differs from other vitamins in terms of its activity. It functions as a hormone and is received by every single cell in the body. Most common sources of vitamin D are fortified dairy products and fatty fish. The daily recommended intake for vitamin D is around 400-800 IU. However, it is always safe to have more than the usual intake. (1)
Since vitamin D is an essential source of energy for the proper functioning of body systems, deficiency of this vitamin can lead to disastrous effects. Some of the effects of vitamin D deficiency include –
- Frequent infections
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Bone loss and back pain
- Impaired wound healing
- Hair loss
- Muscle loss
- Weak enamel and dental caries
Studies have shown that around one billion people worldwide suffer from low levels of vitamin in their blood. In the U.S., 41.6% of adults have vitamin D deficiency. National Center for Biotechnology revealed a study which concluded that an abundance of Vitamin D lowered the risk of dental caries. (2)
Relationship between vitamin D deficiency and dental caries
Dental enamel is one of the most mineralized substances in your body. It is primarily made up of calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D plays a crucial role in allowing calcium and phosphorus absorption from the food into the bones and teeth.
Every cell in our immune system consists of receptors for vitamin D absorption. Similarly, the cells like ameloblast and odontoblast present in the tooth contain receptor sites for vitamin D. This binding action increases the production of antimicrobial proteins, which help to fight oral bacteria and prevent caries.
A long term clinical study was conducted at the University of Manitoba. It investigated the prevalence of dental caries with respect to the vitamin D levels in around 1017 children between 6-11 years of age. (3) At first, all the children were examined for the presence of dental caries. Next, serum from each child was collected to check the concentration levels of vitamin D. The test results of this study were as follows –
- 4% of the children who has less than adequate amount of vitamin D experienced an increased prevalence of dental caries.
- 39% of the children with optimal levels of vitamin D experienced fewer caries.
- 47% of the children with an adequate amount of vitamin D had a slim chance of caries outburst.
This study concluded that Vitamin D plays a significant role in oral health care. Maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D, especially among children, can prevent the occurrence of dental caries and other dental complications. Children with twice the optimal concentration of Vitamin D have the highest chance of living caries-free life.