The Surprising Link Between Vitamin D, Gum Disease, and Diabetes Risk
6 minute read
Diabetes is associated with elevated blood sugar levels, so many people think that your risk for diabetes has to do with diet. While your diet and lifestyle do play a major role in whether you will develop diabetes or not, there are additional factors that many are not aware of.
Certain fitness-related activities, like exercise and also getting enough sleep, can play a major role in development of the metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes. Surprisingly to many, though, your vitamin D levels and oral care routine also contribute to the risk.
The Link Between Your Gums and Diabetes
Your risk for developing diabetes increases as you get older, and, while there are some factors you can control, factors like genetics cannot be helped. Luckily, healthy lifestyle choices can prevent the development of diabetes or at least delay its onset.
Obesity is one of the highest correlated risk factors for diabetes, so lowering your weight is the best way to lower your risk. You can reduce your risk of diabetes with regular exercise, limiting consumption of alcohol and processed foods, keeping your blood pressure and weight under control, and by not smoking.
In addition to this, studies have found a link between gum disease, vitamin levels, and your risk for diabetes. While the precise connection is unknown, many studies have found that a correlation does exist.
Vitamin D is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and diet. Spending time outdoors each day gives you plenty of vitamin D from the sun. It doesn’t take much, provided you can get direct sunlight.
Having enough vitamin D helps your body to absorb the calcium it needs to keep your teeth and bones strong. Low levels of vitamin D have been found to increase your risk and the incidence of gum disease.
While a deficiency in vitamin D will not cause gum disease outright, there is enough evidence to support a relationship between the two. Sufficient levels of vitamin D have been found to ward off gum disease.
Officially known as periodontitis, gum disease is a condition in which inflammation caused by microbes in your mouth damages the tissues that support your teeth. If not treated, this can eventually lead to bone loss.
The connection between vitamin D and the health of your teeth is understandable given the important role vitamin D plays in bone health. This vitamin also possesses anti-inflammatory properties.
Vitamin D’s anti-inflammatory properties allow it to prevent inflammation caused gum disease. Studies conducted found that individuals with both diabetes and gum disease also had vitamin D deficiency.
Because widespread inflammation from the gums can contribute to the development of diabetes, vitamin D helps to prevent that by keeping your gums healthy.
Getting Enough Vitamin D
To keep your bones and teeth healthy, prevent gum disease, and lower your risk for diabetes, you need to ensure that your vitamin D levels stay up. Even though vitamin D is easy to get with regular time spent outdoors, many people are deficient in this essential vitamin or live in frequently clouded areas, particularly during winter.
Now that we know there is a link between gum disease and your risk for diabetes, getting enough vitamin D just became even more important.
You should get your vitamin D levels checked regularly. If found to be low, there are a number of ways you can get them back up to an optimal standing.
Eat more fish: Fish contains substantial amounts of vitamin D and when raw, there is even more available than when cooked. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna are the best options and you also get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial for your overall health.
When fresh fish is not an option, canned tuna gives you a good dose of vitamin D too.
Vitamin D-fortified foods: Eggs, cereals, milk, orange juice, and mushrooms all come in fortified versions to give you even more of the essential vitamin you need. Egg yolks in particular are full of vitamin D, as well as many other health benefits.
When it comes to mushrooms, portobello and those grown in UV light provide the highest vitamin D content.
Vitamin D supplement: If you notice that your diet is not providing enough vitamin D, there are a number of high-quality supplements available that your doctor may recommend. Supplements are also great for people who need to limit their sun exposure.
| Related: How to Get Vitamin D From the Sun Safely |
Vitamin D also helps when it comes to managing diabetes. When present in sufficient amounts, vitamin D can lower blood glucose levels and lower insulin resistance. This is beneficial for managing diabetes more effectively and warding off prediabetes.
The Bottom Line
It is important to remember that vitamin D does not directly prevent diabetes, but the role in your health that it plays does contribute to a reduced risk. Studies are still being conducted to identify if vitamin D supplements can prevent the development of diabetes. Any defense against inflammation, however, will benefit you in more ways than one.
Individuals with gum disease and low vitamin levels have a tendency towards prediabetes, so if you have concerns, you should reach out to your doctor for testing.