Signs of vitamin C deficiency can appear within one month of little to no vitamin C intake. Your risk of developing periodontal disease, a severe form of gingivitis, increases with low serum levels of vitamin C. Symptoms of periodontal disease begin with inflammation of the gum around the tooth. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research states the gum will pull away from the tooth, forming a pocket that can become infected. Plaque will spread and grow in the area, causing a release of toxins that can break down the connective tissue holding your teeth in place.
The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that more than 75 percent of Americans have some form of gum disease. Factors that can increase your risk include a lack of oral hygiene, age, female hormones, genetic factors, smoking, lack of vitamin C and diabetes.
In a study published in 2005 in the “British Dental Journal,” researchers found that smokers had an increased risk of developing periodontal disease related to low levels of serum vitamin C compared to subjects who had normal levels of serum vitamin C. When subjects were given two grapefruits per day for two weeks, equivalent to approximately 180 mg of vitamin C, it decreased the amount of gum bleeding the subjects experienced. An earlier study, published in the “American Journal of Public Health” in February 1989, found that even when a smoker’s diet included sufficient vitamin C, his serum levels were low and contributed to the development of periodontal disease.
Vitamin C Function
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin required for the production of collagen and several neurotransmitters and in protein metabolism. A deficiency can lead to connective tissue weakness and capillaries that are easily broken. There is no recommended dosage to treat gum disease. However, the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C is enough to prevent the development of periodontal disease from vitamin C deficiency. Food sources include citrus fruits, green and red peppers, Brussels sprouts, grapefruit, broccoli, tomato juice and cauliflower.
Vitamin C Requirements
The recommended dietary allowance for infants who are exclusively breastfed is between 40 and 50 mg of vitamin C per day. Children 1 to 3 years need 15 mg per day, children 4 to 8 years need 25 mg per day and children 9 to 13 years need 45 mg per day. As children enter the teen years, females begin to require less vitamin C than males. From age 14 to 18 girls require 65 mg and boys 75 mg. Over the age of 19, girls require 75 mg and boys require 90 mg per day. Women who are pregnant require 80 mg of vitamin C daily, while lactating women require between 115 and 120 mg daily.