Bleeding gums? You may need more vitamin C

In the journals

Published: May, 2021

Bleeding gums are a sign of gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease, but they may also signal low vitamin C in your diet, suggests a study published online Feb. 1, 2021, by Nutrition Reviews. Researchers examined 15 published studies involving 1,140 healthy people as well as data on 8,210 people from the CDC's Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They found that low vitamin C levels in the bloodstream were associated with an increased risk for gum bleeding with gentle probing. The researchers also observed that increasing vitamin C intake may help resolve the problem.

Increased bleeding in general is one of the symptoms of scurvy, a disease caused by severe vitamin C deficiency. Scurvy, which often affected 18th-century sailors without access to fruits and vegetables, is rare today. Still, this new study sheds light on a potential cause of gum bleeding related to vitamin C levels that are only slightly low — not enough to cause scurvy.

Recommended daily intake of vitamin C for adult men is 90 milligrams (mg). You should see your dentist if you have recurring bleeding gums when you brush or floss. But the experts also suggest increasing your vitamin C for good measure, by eating more foods like kale, oranges, peppers, and kiwis, or from a daily 100-mg to 200-mg vitamin C supplement.

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