Life Wellbeing Bleeding gums? You might have a vitamin C deficiency, and it could be diet-related
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Bleeding gums? You might have a vitamin C deficiency, and it could be diet-related

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Brush your teeth and floss twice a day and those bleeding gums will go away … that’s what your dentist rightfully tells you.

Brushing and flossing can prevent the onset of gingivitis, which can be stopped in its early stages.

But a new study from the University of Washington suggests that people with bleeding gums should also check their diet for adequate intake of Vitamin C.

A diet poor in vitamin C tends to be associated with people from lower socioeconomic standing – because they may not be able to afford sufficient regular fresh fruit and vegetables.

It is also a problem with people of compromised health.

In 2016, a number of patients as a western Sydney diabetes clinic were found to be suffering from scurvy, a disease we’d tend to associate with lire aboard ships from the 18th century.

But this new research suggests that many of people of comfortable means are prone to Vitamin C deficiency because they’re following a trendy low-carbohydrate diet, such as the paleo diet.

They tend to avoid eating vitamin-rich oranges or kiwi fruit because of their sugar content, and consequently develop a deficiency.

But why bleeding gums?

The body requires Vitamin C when making make the protein collagen – which is essential for healthy bones, skin, tissues and blood vessels.

When the body can’t replace collagen, tissues start breaking down.

You’ll suffer joint pain and swelling, your wounds won’t heal, you’ll bruise more easily and … and your gums will become swollen and tend to bleed.

“When you see your gums bleed, the first thing you should think about is not, I should brush more. You should try to figure out why your gums are bleeding. And vitamin C deficiency is one possible reason,” said the study’s lead author Dr Philippe Hujoel, a practising dentist and professor of oral health sciences in the UW School of Dentistry.

Dr Hujoel’s study analysed published studies of 15 clinical trials in six countries, involving 1140 predominantly healthy participants, and data from 8210 US residents surveyed in the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s health and nutrition examination survey.

The results showed that bleeding of the gums on gentle probing, or a tendency to gingival bleeding, and also bleeding in the eye, or retinal haemorrhaging, were associated with low vitamin C levels in the bloodstream.

Dr Hujoel suggests that if you can’t find food rich in vitamin C that is palatable, then take a supplement of about 100 to 200 milligrams a day.

We suggest talking to your doctor.