Supplements and Dental Health
Do Supplements Really Make A Difference in Dental Health?
As a dentist, patients often solicit my advice regarding the use of oral nutritional supplements. A common question is are they effective? The answer: it depends. If you are deficient in a particular mineral or vitamin, then most definitely.
Of course, this begs the next question: How do you know if you are deficient? Any competent physician or nutritionist can be of assistance here. Apart from symptoms produced by certain deficiencies that are often observable clinically, a simple urinalysis or blood test can be used to identify which specific vitamins or minerals are lacking. It sometimes surprises people to learn that vitamins are essential elements to good health. In fact, by definition, their absence will produce a disease.
- Lack of vitamin C produces: scurvy (fatigue, nausea, bleeding gums and loose teeth)
- Lack of vitamin D produces: rickets (bowed legs and arms from a failure to mineralize bone)
- Lack of vitamin A produces: night blindness
There are many forms of B vitamins. Here are a few of the diseases produced by their deficiency:
- Lack of vitamin B1: beriberi (can have several forms causing either cardiovascular or nervous system difficulties)
- Lack of vitamin B2: ariboflavinosis (symptoms include cracking of the lips and corners of the mouth)
- Lack of vitamin B3: pellagra (symptoms include the “four Ds”: diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia, and death).
And the list goes on. The same holds true for certain mineral deficiencies. Most people know that a lack of iron will produce anemia. While it is true that some deficiencies are more difficult to acquire than others, the fact remains that if you are excessively low in a given substance, the consequences generally follow.
One reason that blood tests are not always a reliable indicator of deficiency, however, has to do with the fact that the blood attempts to maintain a balance of all those things it needs (a corrective mechanism called “homeostasis”), regardless of deficiency. Thus, unless seriously out of balance, vitamin and mineral levels in blood can come back “normal” (because they can be found in the blood), though they are low elsewhere. In other words, the blood took them first so that it could maintain normal levels.
So, how do you know what to take? One of the most reliable ways is to be tested. Then, you can determine what you need and what the most optimal levels are for you.
In the absence of reliable testing, it is generally best to obtain your vitamins and minerals from natural sources. This means getting it from your food or through the use of “whole food” vitamins. Not all synthetic vitamins are well absorbed and so will produce variable benefits. Sometimes, they can actually create deficiencies, because your body has to convert these “vitamins” to a more useable form. In the process, it takes nutrients from other sources in order to facilitate the process.
For that matter, improper or inefficient digestion can also make it difficult to extract the needed nutrients from your foods or vitamins. In this respect, some individuals also need to take digestive enzymes to facilitate the breakdown of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
In my experience, several companies that produce high-quality whole food vitamins, minerals and herbal extracts are Simplexity Health™, Standard Process® and NutriWest®. Dr. Royal Lee, a dentist who founded Standard Process® actually developed the process for creating whole food concentrates. He stated many times that it was not possible for a synthetic vitamin to create the same result as a whole food concentrate complex of vitamins. In other words, synthetic vitamins can alter function, but they cannot support function. He stated that “the natural vitamin complexes contain the various closely related principles that are normally found together in foods. The more we study those complexes, the more complex they appear. That is why synthetic and chemically purified ‘vitamins’ are really not vitamins at all. They are only fragments of vitamins.” Dr. Lee then goes on to explain that “Vitamin deficiencies are now becoming recognized as specialized forms of starvation. Even overweight persons getting their full quota of calories, carbohydrates, fats and proteins, are very often starving to the danger point of disease from vitamin deficiencies.”
Your body was designed to assimilate nutrients, known and possibly as yet unknown, from whole foods. So this is the first method of balancing body chemistry. After this has been accomplished, any remaining imbalances can be addressed with whole food supplements such as those listed above. Your body has to have whole nutrients to maintain a healthy balance and function. Lack of balance leads to disease. So, yes, taking supplements (the right kind and in the proper amounts) can make a difference in both dental, and overall, health.