2 years ago when I went in for a yearly dental cleaning and check up I was told that I had a handful of cavities. This came to me as a surprise because I thought I was eating totally healthy, running a lot, drinking a lot of water, avoiding processed foods, sugar, and sleeping well. As someone who strongly believes that food is medicine, I began to research what might be the cause behind these cavities. One of the leading experts in holistic dentistry is Dr. Steven Linn. I began listening and reading a lot of his content on the internet. I began to learn that much of dental health has to do with micronutrients because our teeth are made up of minerals, similarly to our bones. It shocked me even more when I found that 91% of American adults experience some kind of tooth decay while we continue to go to the dentist, brush, and eat a “healthy diet”. Meanwhile in pre-agricultural era’s, the tooth decay percentages were between 1 and 4%. Remember, they didn’t have dentists, tooth brushes, fluoride toothpaste, or mouthwash. Archeologicalists have seen a correlation between carbohydrate rich diets and tooth decay because of the fermentation and acidic properties that occur when amylase in the mouth breaks down carbohydrates. So, after researching historical records and the role food plays in the diet I came to a few conclusions. First, fat-soluble vitamins play a crucial role in strong dental health whether it is tooth health or jaw structure. Second, while sugars are an issue, they are not the whole issue, micronutrient deficiencies are what will lead to long term dental issues because the teeth are apart of the living body which means that it can heal itself. Prior to learning about the cavities that have appeared in my mouth my so called healthy diet included lots of fruits and vegetables, limited processed foods, little to no red meat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. I had significant nutrient deficient which lead to low bone density. Low bone density hinted at my issue of dental health. Below are three fat-soluble vitamins that play a crucial role in bone health, calcium absorption, and thus dental health.
Vitamin A (Retinol Form) – Vitamin A has two different forms. First, beta-carotene is found in plant foods like sweet potatoes and carrots. This form is not readily available, the bioavailability of this form is very low compared to the second form. Second, retinol form is found specifically in animal foods. This form is much more bioavailable as it often is paired with fat found in animal foods. Food that are rich in Vitamin A (Retinol Form) include beef liver, eggs, and dairy products. Vitamin A has been also proven to help immune health greatly.
Vitamin K2 – Vitamin K has two different forms K1 and K2. K1 is found in plant foods while K2 is found in animal foods. Again, K2 form is much more bioavailable. Some plant foods do have a good source of K such as fermented soybeans (Natto) but the best foods include cheese, liver, butter, and dark meat chicken. Research has proven the benefits of k2 for dental health.
Vitamin D – Vitamin D plays a crucial role in phosphorus and calcium absorption throughout the body. again, a fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin D3 is the specific form that is most abundantly found in foods like wild caught fish, whole dairy products, and eggs yolks. Proven Research.
Summary – Over the past year I’ve intentionally added many more animal foods in my diet for multiple reasons including injury prevention, recovery, and dental health improvement. While I have not yet checked my dental health this year, I look forward to seeing the potential progress and improvement that these foods have had.