Oct. 29, 2001 -- Losing teeth is certainly not a welcome part of aging. But medical research has found something simple and cheap that you can do to help hold on to those pearly whites.
Calcium and vitamin D have long been touted as crucial in building and preserving bone strength to ward off osteoporosis. But doctors didn't know if this worked for all the bones in the body -- including the teeth.
Lead researcher Elizabeth A. Krall, PhD, and colleagues examined 145 healthy men and women aged 65 and older who had taken either calcium plus vitamin D supplements or placebo as part of a study to determine the effect on bone loss in the hip. The calcium was given at a dose of 500 mg and vitamin D at 700 IU daily.
Those who had taken the calcium and vitamin D supplements lost fewer teeth. The researchers found that 27% of the placebo group, but only 13% of the supplement group, lost one or more teeth during the three-year study.
Once the study was finished, the researchers continued to count teeth for a couple of more years. Again, they found that those taking in at least 1,000 mg of calcium each day were able to hold on to more teeth. Just 40% of those consuming this much calcium -- in their diet and/or supplements -- had lost one or more teeth compared to 59% of people who consumed less.
The research is published in the Oct. 15 issue of The American Journal of Medicine.
Calcium is a vital part of bone, and vitamin D is necessary for the calcium to be absorbed from the intestines. Maintaining an adequate amount of both is crucial for preserving bone strength.
You can get calcium from a variety of foods, especially low-fat dairy foods, including skim milk and low-fat yogurt. Here are some general guidelines to follow on how much calcium you should be getting from your diet and supplements every day:
- Young adults 18-24: 1,200-1,500 mg per day
- Adults 25-65: 1,000 mg per day
- Adults over 65: 1,500 mg per day
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women: 1,200-1,500 mg per day
The best sources of vitamin D are fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, and milk, which is fortified with vitamin D. Here are some guidelines to follow on how much vitamin D your should get getting from your diet and supplements every day:
- Adults 19-50: 200 IU
- Adults 51-69: 400 IU
- Adults 70 and over: 600 IU
Getting the right amount of calcium and vitamin D is vital for maintaining proper bone health, and now it looks like it can also help you hold on to those teeth for a few more years.