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Review finds reduction in tooth decay in association with increased vitamin D

Review finds reduction in tooth decay in association with increased vitamin D

Friday, November 30, 2012. The December, 2012 issue of the journal Nutrition Reviews published an article by Dr Philippe Hujoel of the University of Washington in Seattle, which found an association between increased vitamin D and reduced tooth decay in children. "My main goal was to summarize the clinical trial database so that we could take a fresh look at this vitamin D question," Dr Hujoel stated.

For his review, Dr Hujoel selected 24 controlled clinical trials including a total of 2,827 children between the ages of 2 and 16 years. Vitamin D was increased by supplementation with vitamin D2, vitamin D3, cod liver oil or ultraviolet light. The median follow-up period was 12 months, during which tooth decay was quantified by the number of new dental caries that occurred.

In a pooled analysis of subjects, tooth decay was reduced by 47 percent in children given vitamin D in comparison with those who did not receive it. No significant differences were observed between vitamin D2, vitamin D3 and ultraviolet light exposure.

While the American Medical Association has concluded that vitamin D may be protective against dental caries, the Institute of Medicine, U.S. Department of Human Health and Service and the American Dental Association have not arrived at the same conclusion. The U.S. National Research Council, which once recognized vitamin D's benefit in caries prevention, now calls the issue unresolved. Dr Hujoel remarked that "Such inconsistent conclusions by different organizations do not make much sense from an evidence-based perspective."

"The findings from the University of Washington reaffirm the importance of vitamin D for dental health," commented vitamin D authority Michael Hollick, who is a professor of medicine at the Boston University Medical Center. "Children who are vitamin D deficient have poor and delayed teeth eruption and are prone to dental caries."

Dr Hujoel observed that the incidence of dental caries in young children is on the rise at a time when vitamin D levels are declining. "Whether this is more than just a coincidence is open to debate," he said. "In the meantime, pregnant women or young mothers can do little harm by realizing that vitamin D is essential to their offspring's health. Vitamin D does lead to teeth and bones that are better mineralized."

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Vitamin D improves TB recovery

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In an article published on September 4, 2012 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, British researchers report a beneficial effect for vitamin D supplementation in tuberculosis (TB) patients being treated with antibiotics. The finding adds evidence to pre-antibiotic era treatment of TB that involved sunbathing (which stimulates the body's production of vitamin D) at sanatoriums.

Ninety-five TB patients were randomized to receive a high dose of vitamin D or a placebo during their initial eight weeks of antibiotic therapy. Blood and sputum samples were analyzed before, during and after treatment.

Participants who received vitamin D experienced more rapid sputum smear conversion, indicating accelerated clearance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from the lungs, as well as a greater decline in factors related to inflammation in comparison with those who received a placebo. "These findings are very significant," stated lead researcher Adrian Martineau, who is a senior lecturer in respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London's Blizard Institute. "They indicate that vitamin D may have a role in accelerating resolution of inflammatory responses in tuberculosis patients. This is important, because sometimes these inflammatory responses can cause tissue damage leading to the development of cavities in the lung. If we can help these cavities to heal more quickly, then patients should be infectious for a shorter period of time, and they may also suffer less lung damage"

"More broadly, the ability of vitamin D to dampen down inflammatory responses without compromising the actions of antibiotics raises the possibility that supplementation might also have benefits in patients receiving antimicrobial therapy for pneumonia, sepsis and other lung infections," he added. "We are hoping to do more work to evaluate the effects of higher doses and different forms of vitamin D to see if they have a more dramatic effect."

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