People decide to become vegetarian for many reasons. For some, it's about reducing the negative impact that livestock farming has on the environment. For others, it's an ethical choice about reducing animal cruelty. And for many, a vegetarian diet is a way to keep in good health.
But a vegetarian diet can also affect your oral health. When it comes to maintaining strong teeth and bones, most people think of calcium. It's true that calcium is very important, but if you aren't getting sufficient levels of vitamin D, much of your dietary calcium may be going to waste.
Vitamin D is key to bone and dental health because it helps the body absorb dietary calcium properly. Without it, much calcium will simply pass through the body unused. However, it can be difficult to get enough vitamin D since fewer people work outdoors, more people wear sunscreen, and there are relatively few groups of foods that naturally contain vitamin D.
If you still eat fish, then fatty fish (like tuna and salmon) are a good source of vitamin D; however, these aren't an option for a strict vegetarian. Eggs, cheese, and mushrooms all contain small amounts. But most dietary vitamin D comes from foods that are fortified with it. Milk, yogurt, orange juice, and cereal commonly have vitamin D added to them, so check the labels on your preferred brands or take a look at this list put together by the USDA.
The other main source of vitamin D is sunlight. This has its own complications, however – you need to be exposed to sunlight for your body to create vitamin D, but exposure to sunlight is bad for your skin and can even lead to skin cancer. In addition, if you have dark skin or live in an area without much sunny weather, you will have difficulty getting enough vitamin D even if you spend time outdoors.
For children, teenagers, and adults, the National Institutes of Health guidelines recommend 600 IU of vitamin D per day; if you are over 70, the recommendation goes up to 800 IU. If you're worried that you're not getting enough, talk to your doctor or dentist about getting dietary supplements. They may want you to have a blood test first to determine what your current vitamin D levels are.
And if your dentist has mentioned any concerns about your teeth or jawbone being weak or suffering from bone loss, make sure to discuss your diet. Your dentist can help you determine whether there are any nutritional gaps that may be affecting your oral health. Contact a company like Access Dental for more information.Share