Vitamin D Fights Tooth Decay
A review of studies of children in several countries links vitamin D to a 50%
reduction in the incidence of dental cavities.
The US review, published in the December issue of Nutrition Reviews, looked at
24 controlled clinical trials, spanning the 1920s to the 1980s, on approximately
3,000 children in several countries.
Dr Philippe Hujoel, of the University of Washington in Seattle, who conducted
the review, said that while vitamin D’s role in supporting bone health has not
been disputed, significant disagreement has historically existed over its role
in preventing caries.
• 1950s: The American Medical Association and the US. National Research Council
concluded that vitamin D was beneficial in managing dental caries. The American
Dental Association said otherwise – based on the same evidence.
• 1989: The National Research Council, despite new evidence supporting vitamin
D’s caries-fighting benefits, called the issue ‘unresolved’.
• Current reviews by the Institute of Medicine, the US Department of Human
Health and Service and the American Dental Association draw no conclusions on
the vitamin D evidence as it relates to dental caries.
Dr Hujoel said: ‘Such inconsistent conclusions by different organisations do not
make much sense from an evidence-based perspective.’
The trials he reviewed increased vitamin D levels in children through the use of
supplemental UV radiation or by supplementing the children’s diet with cod-liver
oil or other products containing the vitamin.
The clinical trials he reviewed were conducted in the US, Great Britain, Canada,
Austria, New Zealand and Sweden. Trials were conducted in institutional
settings, schools, medical and dental practices, or hospitals. The subjects were
children or young adults between the ages of 2 and 16 years, with a weighted
mean age of 10 years.
The vitamin D question takes on greater importance in the light of current
public health trends.
Vitamin D levels in many populations are decreasing while dental caries levels
in young children are increasing.