Current advice from the American Dental Association tells you that if your gums bleed, make sure you are brushing and flossing twice a day because it could be a sign of gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease.
In a new study, researchers found that people should also check their intake of vitamin C.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of Washington.
In the study, the team analyzed published studies of 15 clinical trials in six countries, involving 1,140 predominantly healthy participants, and data from 8,210 U.S. residents surveyed in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The results showed that bleeding of the gums on gentle probing, or gingival bleeding tendency, and also bleeding in the eye, or retinal hemorrhaging, was linked to low vitamin C levels in the bloodstream.
And, the researchers found that increasing the daily intake of vitamin C in those people with low vitamin C plasma levels helped to reverse these bleeding issues.
The team also suggests that both a gum bleeding tendency and retinal bleeding could be a sign of general trouble in one’s microvascular system, of a microvascular bleeding tendency in the brain, heart and kidneys.
The study does not imply that successful reversing of an increased gingival bleeding tendency with vitamin C will prevent strokes or other serious health outcomes.
However, they do suggest that vitamin C recommendations designed primarily to protect against scurvy — a deadly disease caused by extremely low vitamin C levels — are too low and that such a low vitamin C intake can lead to a bleeding tendency, which should not be treated with dental floss.
Consequently, the team does recommend people attempt to keep an eye on their vitamin C intake through the incorporation of non-processed foods such as kale, peppers, or kiwis into their diet, and if they can’t find palatable foods rich in vitamin C to consider a supplement of about 100 to 200 milligrams a day.
Vitamin C-rich fruits such as kiwis or oranges are rich in sugar and thus typically eliminated from a low-carb diet.
This avoidance may lead to a vitamin C intake that is too low and is linked to an increased bleeding tendency.
People who exclusively eat lean meats and avoid offal, the vitamin-rich organ meats, may be at particularly high risk for a low vitamin C intake.
One author of the study is Philippe Hujoel, a practicing dentist and professor of oral health sciences.
The study is published in Nutrition Reviews.
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