We all know the old adage, you are what you eat. But it’s mostly true. If you eat good, nutritious food, you’re much more likely to have a healthier body, including great hair, skin and teeth.
It’s best to get your vitamins and mineral from food, but you can also take supplements if you need to. Here’s the lowdown on the essential vitamins and minerals you need for strong, healthy teeth.
Calcium is essential to build healthy bones and teeth. You may have got plenty of this when you were a kid, but calcium is constantly being used and replenished by the body, so it’s essential that you have a steady intake of it. A lack of calcium can lead to tooth and enamel loss over time.
Where do I get it? Dairy foods, green leafy veg, fortified soya milk and small, bony fish such as sardines.
Vitamin C helps to support our immune system and protect cells, and it plays an important role in gum health. Our bodies need extra vitamin C when we’re ill, and it’s thought to help gums recover in cases of gum disease such as periodontitis.
A deficiency of vitamin C can also lead to scurvy – thankfully very rare these days – which causes bleeding gums and loose teeth, among other things.
Where do I get it? Citrus fruits, red and green peppers, broccoli, kiwis and strawberries.
Also known as the sunshine vitamin, thanks to its ability to be made in our bodies in response to sunlight, vitamin D works with calcium and phosphate and helps regulate the amount of these minerals we have. Adults need 10 micrograms a day, but if you spend a long time inside, have dark skin or wear sunblock, you’ll probably need a supplement. The same is true in the winter when there’s less sunshine.
Where do I get it? Oily fish such as salmon, sardines and tinned tuna; red meat, liver and egg yolks.
You might think vitamin A is just good for your eyesight, but it’s essential for your smile, too. It’s an antioxidant that can help protect your mouth against infection and keep your gums healthy. It’s thought that vitamin A can help speed up gum healing, and help keep your saliva glands healthy.
Where do I get it? Dairy products such as cheese and milk, eggs, oily fish and liver. Vegetarian sources include red, yellow and green leafy veg – the body converts beta-carotene from these veg into vitamin A.
Alongside calcium, phosphorus is essential for building strong teeth and bones, as well as energy metabolism in the body. Most people get enough of this mineral in their diets already, so you’re unlikely to need a supplement.
Where do I get it? Salmon, dairy produce, brown rice, chicken, oats, legumes, nuts and seeds.