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Vitamin D thought to lower dental caries rates

By Dental Tribune International
November 30, 2012

SEATTLE, Wash., USA: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the role of vitamin D is a controversial issue among nutrition experts. However, researchers have found new evidence that the vitamin helps maintain good oral health. From a review of a number of studies, they found that vitamin D intake was linked to fewer incidences of dental caries in children.

The researchers from the University of Washington reviewed 24 clinical studies conducted by various health institutions in the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Austria, New Zealand and Sweden between the 1920s and the 1980s. The trials encompassed about 3,000 children aged 2 to 16, with a mean age of 10.

Overall, they found that increased vitamin D levels in these children were associated with a 50 percent reduction in the incidence of tooth decay.

"The findings from the University of Washington reaffirm the importance of vitamin D for dental health," said Dr. Michael Holick, professor of medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine. "Children who are vitamin D deficient have poor and delayed teeth eruption and are prone to dental caries," he added.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while a number of studies have suggested that the intake of vitamin D not only helps prevent osteoporosis but also reduces the risk of various cancers, diabetes and heart disease, others have raised concerns that excess intake of vitamin D may be toxic.

Substantial amounts of vitamin D are synthesized by the body through sun exposure, but it is found in only very few foods, like fatty fish such as salmon and tuna, according to the National Institutes of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements. Small amounts are also found in avocados, beef liver, cheese, mushrooms and egg yolks. In the U.S., vitamin D is commonly added to milk and a number of breakfast cereals, some brands of orange juice, yogurt and margarine, the institute stated.

A study published in 2011 by the agency found that two-thirds of the U.S. population had sufficient vitamin D, while about 8 percent were at risk of vitamin D deficiency. The researchers observed that those who had lower levels of the vitamin were mostly younger, male or non-Hispanic whites.

The study will be published in the December issue of the Nutrition Reviews journal.

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