Type 2 diabetes is spreading like a bushfire, and most people will be affected by periodontal disease at some point in their life. Now, science has discovered that lack of vitamin D, which is also increasingly common, enhances the risk of both diseases. Their observation is based on new study that sheds light, for the very first time, on vitamin D and its role in preventing and treating the two conditions.
Type 2 diabetes is spreading with epidemic proportions all over the world. An estimated one in 10 Americans has type 2 diabetes, and every year, 1.5 million new cases are diagnosed. In Denmark, more than 500.000 people have type 2 diabetes or the early stage of the disease called metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by insulin resistance, hypertension, elevated cholesterol levels, chronic inflammation, and an apple-shaped body with abdominal obesity.
Diabetes is a very complex disease, and genes, overweight, which overconsumption of carbohydrates can trigger. It is also known that lack of vitamin D increases the risk of diabetes, and now, science has even discovered that a vitamin D deficiency can increase your risk of periodontal disease.
Lack of vitamin D increases your risk of periodontal disease and diabetes with reinforcing effect
A team of scientists from the University of Toronto, Canada, has demonstrated how lack of vitamin D affects the risk of periodontal disease, which has become a national scourge. The disease is caused by plaque deposits and tartar at the gum line that give rise to potentially harmful bacteria, which produce toxins and tissue-deteriorating enzymes. As a result of the immune system reacting to this, a chronic inflammatory state may develop in the gingival crevice. If the problem persists, the inflammation spreads, setting the stage for periodontal disease. At the same time, the depth of the crevices increases, leading to the risk of tooth loss.
The Canadian scientists wanted to look closer at dental health because earlier studies have shown that diabetes increases your risk of periodontal disease. What is more, periodontal disease increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, and evidence suggests a link to vitamin D levels.
Aleksandra Zuk, who headed the new study, claims that having sufficient amounts of vitamin D in the blood helps fight microbes and counteracts chronic inflammation.
Did you know that both diabetes and periodontal disease lead to cardiovascular disease?
It is widely accepted that diabetes increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Now, dentists have observed that periodontal disease can also cause it. When bacteria from the oral cavity are carried with the blood to different body tissues, they can cause oxidative stress, inflammation, and atherosclerosis. This can be particularly dangerous, if the bacteria attach to the endocardium or the heart valves.
Analyzing the interactions
During the period 2009-2010, the scientists gathered data from a large population study called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). They collected data from 1,631 people with type 2 diabetes and 1,369 people without the disease. All participants were 30 years of age, and each individual underwent a dental exam. Also, fasting blood sugar levels and blood levels of vitamin D were measured.
Various data revealed that lack of vitamin D increased the risk of both periodontal disease and type 2 diabetes. The scientists also discovered that the combination of being vitamin D-deficient and having one of the two diseases increases your risk of contracting the other. Therefore, lacking vitamin D not only increases your risk of getting both diseases, it has a reinforcing impact on your risk of getting the second disease, if you already suffer from one of the two conditions.
More than 40 percent of adult Americans have gum disease, and lack of vitamin D is quite common, which makes the study’s conclusions highly relevant. It is the first study to shed a light on the relation between vitamin D, periodontal disease, and type 2 diabetes.
A new potential for treating both diseases
The researchers see their observations as a new potential in the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease and type 2 diabetes and plan to look closer at the relation. In any case, it makes sense to give patients high doses of vitamin D, if there is a deficiency. Vitamin D helps the immune system fight the bacteria in the gingival pockets and it helps the body fight the inflammation, which is present in both periodontal disease and diabetes.
The study is published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care
Important note: Remember to eat blood sugar-stabilizing meals and to maintain good dental hygiene as part of your strategy for preventing diabetes and periodontal disease.
Official recommendations for vitamin D and our actual need
The reference intake (RI) level for vitamin D (in Denmark) is five micrograms. However, many experts believe that our actual need for vitamin D is much higher than the RI level and therefore recommend daily vitamin D consumption in the range of 30 to 100 micrograms. It is quite easy to synthesize that amount of the nutrient with sun exposure on a hot summer day. Dark-skinned people and older people with thin and aged skin tend to produce less vitamin D, while overweight individuals and diabetics seem to have difficulty with utilizing the vitamin. During the winter period, everyone needs to take a vitamin D supplement, as our diets only contain a limited amount of the nutrient, and the sun sits too low in the sky to enable vitamin D synthesis in the skin.
Did you know that we also need enough magnesium to help the body produce the active forms of vitamin D?
Tim Newman. What´s the link between vitamin D, gum health, and diabetes? Medical News Today. 22 august 2018
Anne Marie Uwitonze, Mohammed S Razzaque. Role of magnesium in Vitamin D Activation and Function. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 2018
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