Your bleeding gums could be a sign of a vitamin deficiency

When you experience bleeding gums, you might think that you have gum disease. However, bleeding gums can also occur due to other reasons, including vitamin deficiencies. A deficiency in either vitamin C or vitamin K can increase the risk of bleeding from the gums, but through different ways.

Vitamin C, which is also known as ascorbic acid, plays a key role in keeping the gums healthy. This vitamin helps in the production of collagen, and collagen fibers run throughout the gums and the periodontal ligament. They are also in charge of maintaining the structural integrity of the gums and periodontal ligaments. So when you lack vitamin C, the repair and turnover of these collagen fibers are affected.

When damaged or poorly formed collagen fibers build up, the gums become very vulnerable to destruction from microbial attack. Therefore, the gums and the other supporting structures of the teeth will not be able to protect the gums from harmful microbes as efficiently as they usually would. Because of this, a large amount of bleeding from the gums can occur even due to a small amount of plaque on the teeth or a minor amount of trauma like when you are brushing your teeth. (Related: Bleeding gums a glaring symptom of vitamin C deficiency.)

On the other hand, vitamin K plays a role in blood clotting. Certain proteins involved in blood clotting depend on vitamin K to function properly. While blood clotting may be harmful in some cases, it is still important. Without blood clotting, you could bleed excessively even from a minor injury, which could be life-threatening. This is also alarming because the gums are often exposed to minor injuries in the oral environment.

Deficiencies in vitamins C and K rarely occur in people living in developed countries. Nonetheless, it is important to ensure that you are getting the vitamins you need to stay healthy. You can do this by eating foods rich in vitamins C and K. For vitamin C, you can add foods such as citrus fruits and juices, blackcurrants, broccoli, bell peppers, potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes to your diet. Adults need 40 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C every day, and since this vitamin can’t be stored in the body, it needs to be replenished every day. For vitamin K, you can include foods like lettuce, kale, mustard greens, spinach, soybeans, Swiss chard, olive oil, and watercress.

Other vitamin deficiencies that could cause bleeding gums

Vitamins A and B3 deficiencies can also cause the gums to bleed easily, but these vitamin deficiencies are rare. Vitamin A, which is a fat-soluble vitamin, plays a role in the formation of bones and teeth, as well as in the maintenance of healthy skin and mucous membranes of the mouth and lungs. A deficiency of this vitamin can result in bleeding gums, as well as dry, rough skin and infections of the lungs and bladder. While vitamin A deficiency rarely occurs in most people, it can often occur in people who are taking cholesterol-lowering drugs because of poor vitamin A absorption. Women need 700 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A daily, while men need 900 mcg. You can get vitamin A from foods such as organ meats, egg yolks, fruits, and vegetables.

Vitamin B3, on the other hand, is a water-soluble vitamin. Also known as niacin, this vitamin helps the body turn food into energy used by the cells and for DNA repair. When niacin deficiency occurs, a sore mouth with bleeding gums can occur. Men need 16 mg of niacin every day, while women need 14 mg. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 18 and 17 mg of this vitamin daily, respectively. You can get this vitamin from foods like chicken, crimini mushrooms, salmon, sardines, tuna, and turkey.

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