Maintaining strong bones and teeth is something we all need to do over the course of our lives. Most people think that all that requires is consuming more milk. That is simply not the case as many different nutrients and vitamins are needed to maintain bones and teeth. Luckily, most of those nutrients can be found in common everyday foods.
Vitamins Needed For Healthy Teeth
-Calcium – This is the one we all know we need. But did you know that calcium also aids in blood clotting, transmission of nerve impulses, as well as the regulation of your heart’s rhythm. Calcium is an essential nutrient your body needs and if it does not get enough of it, your body will pull it from your bones. Calcium comes from many sources. These include dairy products (milk and cheese), dark leafy greens and even dried beans. Adults up to age 50 should get 1,000 milligrams of calcium and adults over 50 should get 1,200 milligrams of calcium
-Vitamin D – Vitamin D and calcium are partners in building strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D is needed to help your body absorb calcium. Unfortunately, vitamin D is not easily found in everyday foods. You can get your daily intake of vitamin D from fortified foods, spending a few minutes in the sun each day, or from supplements.
-Vitamin C - Your bones, teeth and the connective tissues surrounding each tooth all contain large amounts of collagen, a type of protein. Getting enough vitamin C helps your body produce collagen and helps to ensure that you can maintain the health of collagen-rich tissues. Vitamin C deficiencies weaken your bones and teeth, and people with severe vitamin C deficiency often experience tooth loss. Most fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C, so include fresh or frozen produce in every meal to fight vitamin C deficiency.
-Vitamin A - Vitamin A is important for bone growth, cell reproduction and repair. The most common sources for vitamin A are animal products, dairy, and colorful fruits and vegetables.
-Vitamin E - Recent studies have found that individuals with periodontal disease have low levels of vitamin E in their gum tissue. The link between vitamin E and periodontal disease is still not completely understood, but eating foods rich in vitamin E helps increase your overall levels of this vitamin and might help maintain healthy bones and teeth. Eat almonds, avocado and olive and canola oils as sources of vitamin E.
Excellent Sources of Food For Bone Health
-Yogurt - Most people get their vitamin D through exposure to sunlight, but certain foods, like yogurt, are fortified with vitamin D. One cup of yogurt can be a creamy way to get your daily calcium. Stonyfield Farms makes a fat-free plain yogurt that contains 30% of your calcium and 20% of your vitamin D for the day. And though we love the protein-packed Greek yogurts, these varieties tend to contain less calcium and little, if any, vitamin D.
-Milk - There’s a reason milk is the poster child for calcium. Eight ounces of fat-free milk will cost you 90 calories, but provide you with 30% of your daily dose of calcium. Choose a brand fortified with vitamin D to get double the benefits.
-Cheese – Just because cheese is full of calcium doesn’t mean you need to eat it in excess (packing on the pounds won’t help your joints!). Just 1.5 ounces (think a set of dice) of cheddar cheese contains more than 30% of your daily value of calcium, so enjoy in moderation. Most cheeses contain a small amount of vitamin D, but not enough to put a large dent in your daily needs.
-Sardines – These tiny fish, often found in cans, have surprisingly high levels of both vitamin D and calcium. Though they may look a bit odd, they have a savory taste that can be delicious in pastas, salads, and even as topping on pizza.
-Eggs - Though eggs only contain 6% of your daily vitamin D, they’re a quick and easy way to get it. Just don’t opt for egg whites—they may cut calories, but the vitamin D is in the yolk.
-Salmon - Salmon is known for having plenty of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, but a 3-ounce piece of sockeye salmon contains more than 100% of your vitamin D. So eat up for your heart and your bones.
-Spinach - One cup of cooked spinach contains almost 25% of your daily calcium, plus fiber, iron, and vitamin A.
-Fortified Cereal - Certain cereals—like Kashi U Black Currants and Walnuts, Total Whole Grain, and Wheaties—contain up to 25% of your daily vitamin D. When you do not have time to cook salmon or get out in the sun, cereals can be a tasty way to get your vitamin D.
-Tuna - Tuna, another fatty fish, is a good source of vitamin D. Three ounces of canned tuna contains 154 IU, or about 39% of your daily dose of the sunshine vitamin.
-Collared Greens - Like spinach, this leafy green often enjoyed south of the Mason-Dixon line is full of calcium. One cup of cooked collards contains more than 25% of your daily calcium.
-Orange Juice - A glass of orange juice does not have calcium or vitamin D, but it is often fortified to contain these nutrients. Try Tropicana’s Calcium + Vitamin D to get a boost of these essentials. Also, studies have shown that the ascorbic acid in OJ may help with calcium absorption, so you may be more likely to get the benefits of this fortified drink.
Maintaining healthy bones and teeth requires attention to what we eat. It is never too early to start as studies have shown that women who maintain proper nutrition levels at earlier ages have less bone density issues as they age. As always see your dentist regularly for dental examinations, oral cancer screenings, and professional cleanings to keep your teeth their healthiest.