by Dr. Janhavi Rane, DDS

Now enjoy the sun and don’t just improve your mood and your tan but also your oral health!

New research has found a link between vitamin D (most commonly absorbed through sun exposure) and lowered risk of tooth decay. A team from the University of Washington examined the impact vitamin D had on dental caries (cavities). They looked at clinical studies that examined 2,800 children from all over the world between the 1920s and the 1980s. Based on analysis of the data, the research team concluded that vitamin D can prevent or reduce tooth decay. The studies showed that increased vitamin D levels were linked to about a 50 percent reduction in tooth decay.

Vitamin D promotes healthy bone growth. Without a sufficient amount of the nutrient, the bones become thin, brittle and prone to fracture. Studies have also shown that a healthy amount of vitamin D reduces the risk of serious health concerns like cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Conversely, a vitamin D deficiency was linked to poor dental health, including delayed tooth eruption. Vitamin D is believed to benefit bone metabolism and act as an anti-inflammatory agent, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The NIH believes, “Most people meet at least some of their vitamin D needs through exposure to sunlight.” Vitamin D is also naturally present in a small selection of foods, such as tuna and salmon, and in supplement form. Vitamin D is commonly added to breakfast cereals, milk and yogurt.

However, nutritional experts warn that much vitamin D can be toxic. This is especially true for people who love to bask in the sun for hours on end.

Looking to boost your levels of vitamin D? Take a seat in the sun. Experts agree that a moderate dose of sun exposure is best. Aim for 5-30 minutes of sun exposure between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., twice a week to the face, arms, legs or back. If you’re not a sun worshipper, stock up on fish at the grocery store, or visit your local vitamin store for a bottle of supplements.

On that note … hope you are having a beautiful sunny summer!

Rane’s Exclusively Yours Dental (Main Office Providing All Phases Of Dentistry For Children and Adults), Plainsboro Shopping Center (Beside Romeos Restaurant), 10 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro. 609-275-1777. www.ranesdental.com

Rane’s Dental Aesthetics (A Dental Specialty Extension for Orthodontics and Periodontics), New Plainsboro Village (Beside 1st Constitution Bank), 11 Schalks Crossing Road, Plainsboro. 609-750-1666. www.ranesorthoperio.com

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