Your toothbrush and floss aren’t the only weapons needed to protect your teeth – certain vitamins and minerals play an important role in helping keep your teeth and gums healthy. They can be obtained from natural food sources as well as through dietary supplements.

The addition of teeth strengthening vitamins and minerals to a diet is an essential element for good oral health practices. Failure to do so can result in various dental health-related ills.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body to absorb and utilize calcium, the main component that makes up teeth and jaw bones. Calcium is essential for proper development of teeth and bones, as well as to keep them strong.

Lack of this vital nutrient is also known to cause oral health problems such as burning mouth syndrome.
Foods that have it:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Hard cheeses
  • Eggs
  • Fortified cereals
  • Kale
  • Fortified non-dairy alternatives like soy milk

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Vitamin E

As an antioxidant, vitamin E fights the inflammation and bacteria that causes periodontal disease. Vitamin E also fights against the oxidation of gum tissue, which is linked to a multitude of oral health issues.
Foods that have it:

  • Avocado
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Wheat germ
  • Vegetable oils
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Almonds
  • Peanut butter

Vitamin A

Vitamin A supports saliva production, ensuring a healthy supply of saliva in the mouth. Saliva helps keep teeth and mouth healthy by cleaning away food particles, debris and harmful bacteria from in between teeth and on the gums. It also helps to keep the mucous membranes healthy, thereby preventing them from becoming susceptible to diseases.

Foods that have it:

  • Carrots
  • Citrus fruits
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Egg yolks
  • Fish

Vitamin K

Vitamin K, or potassium, facilitates blood clotting and also promotes teeth and bone health.

Foods that have it:

  • Broccoli
  • Collards
  • Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Mushrooms
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Legumes

B Vitamins

These consist of eight water-soluble nutrients that are essential for the optimal functioning of the body, including teeth and bones. These vitamins, specifically Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) and Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin), fight off oral inflammation and mouth sores as well as associated problems. Try to incorporate it into your diet to prevent these oral health issues.

Foods sources that have it:

  • Poultry
  • Red meats
  • Fish
  • Dairy products
  • Spinach and other green leafy vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Almonds

Vitamin C

Vitamins C helps keep the gums’ connective tissues healthy and strong. Lack of vitamin C can lead to loose teeth and bleeding gums, as well as increased risk of gum disease, due to the weakening of these connective tissues that hold teeth securely in place.

Foods that have it:

  • Oranges
  • Citrus fruits
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Raw red peppers

Calcium

Your teeth and jaw bones mainly consist of calcium; and it is, therefore, not hard to see why this mineral is important for keeping them healthy. You must consume adequate amounts of calcium to ensure normal development of your teeth and keep them strong.
Foods that have it:

  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Fortified non-dairy alternatives like soy milk
  • Fortified cereals
  • Hard cheeses
  • Kale
  • Almonds
  • Legumes, etc.

Phosphorus

Cells throughout the body need it to work normally and optimally. It helps generate energy and plays a critical role in teeth and bone growth and development.

Food sources of phosphorous:

  • Dairy products, particularly milk
  • Eggs
  • Peas
  • Meat
  • Some cereals

Iron

Iron is an essential element for blood cells production. It helps keep red blood cells and other components at their appropriate levels, which enables the immune system to function at optimal levels when it comes to fighting disease and infection, including gum disease and oral infection.
Foods that have it:

  • Spinach and other green veggies
  • Soybeans
  • Dark meat (turkey)
  • Beef
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Fortified beans

Zinc

This is another trace mineral required by mouth and teeth to fight against bacteria and plaque buildup. It is naturally found in saliva, but you may need to supplement with it to maintain adequate levels of the mineral.

Foods that have it:

  • Red meats
  • Fortified cereals
  • Some seafood
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Legumes
  • Oysters

Magnesium

Helps with teeth and bone strength.

Foods that have it:

  • Potatoes
  • Quinoa
  • Whole Wheat
  • Soybeans
  • Dairy
  • Nuts
  • Green leafy veggies

Fluoride

Fluoride helps with bone growth and prevents cavities.
Sources:

  • Some sea fish
  • Fluoridated water
  • Tap water

Many brands of toothpaste have it, as well.

Iodine

It promotes the absorption of calcium, thereby helping in the development of teeth and bones. But you only need small amounts, since it is a trace mineral.
Food sources of Iodine:

  • Iodized salt
  • Dairy products
  • Seafood
  • Seaweed

Best Sources of Vitamins for Teeth: Foods or Supplements?

Generally, it’s best to get your vitamins (and minerals) for teeth from natural food sources or, in case of vitamin D, controlled sun exposure. Exceptions to this rule are two B vitamins.

Recent studies indicate that 10-30% of older people (over 50 years) have problems digesting and absorbing natural vitamin B-12 food sources. So, if you are of age 50 or more, you should consider getting your B-12 for teeth from a supplement.

Research has also shown that vitamin B-9(folic acid) is better absorbed from a supplement, rather than a good old natural food source.

In addition, it’s worth noting that iron from meat sources is absorbed twice as well as iron from plant foods – although eating plant foods with iron (or an iron supplement) with a natural source of vitamin C will boost its absorption.

Avoid Taking Too Much of Fat-Soluble Vitamins (Supplements)

Excessive amounts of fat-soluble vitamins in their synthetic form can be dangerous since they tend to build up within the fatty tissues causing toxicity. When you take too much of fat-soluble vitamins in supplement form, you’ll be getting a highly concentrated serving of vitamins rather than the required amount that you would get from eating foods with those vitamins.

Fat-soluble vitamins to avoid taking too much in synthetic form include:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K, or potassium

Natural vs Synthetic Vitamin Supplements: Which Is Better?

Supplements made from whole foods tend to be more expensive and are often touted as more beneficial to oral health. But this is not always the case. The so-called natural supplements won’t give you more vitamins (as they actually contain modest amounts), but you can get additional plant compounds and fiber that could be of help to your oral health.

Regarding foods/natural supplements vs. synthetic forms of vitamins, sometimes natural sources are better, sometimes synthetic supplements are better, and sometimes it really does not matter. All can help keep both your teeth and gums healthy and prevent or treat diseases and infections, but taking too much of anything can be poisonous. Keep in mind that vitamin supplements can never be a substitute for a healthy, tooth-friendly diet.

Author: Peter Mayhew

Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.