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Research links vitamin D and healthy teeth

January 21, 2013

Spending time in the sun may be good for your teeth.

Researchers who took a second look at a series of clinical trials conducted on 2,000 children in several countries between the 1920s and 1980s determined vitamin D—which we often garner from sunlight—was associated with around a 50 percent reduction in the incidence of tooth decay. The review was published in the December issue of “Nutrition Reviews.”

“My main goal was to summarize the clinical trial database so that we could take a fresh look at this vitamin D question,” said Dr. Philippe Hujoel, professor at the University of Washington School of Dentistry.

The trials increased vitamin D levels in children through the use of supplemental ultraviolet radiation or by supplementing the children's diet with cod liver oil or other products containing the vitamin.

The subjects were children or young adults between 2 and 16 years old and lived in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Austria, New Zealand or Sweden.

“Whether this is more than just a coincidence is open to debate,” Dr. Hujoel said. “In the meantime, pregnant women or young mothers can do little harm by realizing that vitamin D is essential to their offspring's health. Vitamin D does lead to teeth and bones that are better mineralized.”

However, Dr. Hujoel did express caution about the findings.

“One has to be careful with the interpretation of this systematic review,” Dr. Hujoel said.

“The trials had weaknesses which could have biased the result and most of the trial participants lived in an era that differs profoundly from today's environment.”