Many patents ask me, “Doc, my gums are bleeding and I don’t know why?” Often, bleeding gums is a sign that your body isn’t getting enough key nutrients. Research has established zinc as a key player in the body’s immune response. One of the first indicators of zinc deficiency are bleeding gums and gingivitis. So, if your gums are bleeding, it’s time to learn more about zinc!
Can mineral or vitamin deficiency cause bleeding gums?
Let’s start off, zinc is not a vitamin, it’s a mineral.
If you have close to perfect oral hygiene but aren’t getting enough zinc, you could still have issues with your gums. You can brush and floss, every day to fight against plaque buildup on your gums. But if you’re still experiencing bleeding/pain while flossing or brushing you might want to consider what you’re putting in your mouth first. Diet and nutrition are keys factors in preventing periodontal disease.
Early signs of periodontal disease are bleeding of the gums during brushing or flossing, which is considered gingivitis. As this disease progresses, and it turns into periodontitis causing tooth decay, it could cause complications down the road and even cause you to lose your teeth.
So, if your gums are bleeding and you’re regularly brushing or flossing, the question you need to ask yourself is what are you not getting enough of? Has your diet changed recently? Are you getting enough fat-soluble vitamins in your diet every day? Specifically, make sure you’re getting enough zinc.
What are the signs and symptoms of Zinc Deficiency?
Bleeding gums could be an early warning of zinc deficiency. However, there is a certain set of people at risk of low zinc levels. Research shows that pregnant women and the elderly are most at risk for not getting enough zinc in the US and for different reasons.
A shocking 82% of pregnant women are considered zinc deficient because they require almost triple more than the daily intake of zinc for fetal growth. That is a significant amount of zinc needed comparable to our standard American diet. Pregnant women have to be conscious not only of their iron intake, but to increase their zinc consumption as well. It’s suggested that pregnant women take a zinc supplement during their pregnancy to help reach their daily goal.
Data shows that 30% of the elderly are not eating sufficient amount of food daily therefore not meeting their daily zinc requirements and most probably other nutritional requirements.
Age and zinc deficiency: The elderly require the same amount of zinc as the average adult so it’s best to try to incorporate more zinc foods in their diet. If the deficiency still persists and they have not been able to consistently change their diet a supplement should be added.
What are the health benefits of zinc?
Recent studies have pushed zinc to recently become known as the miracle mineral. It is considered one of the most important nutrients throughout our body because of its many benefits. Zinc helps:
- Strengthen your immune system
- Fight inflammation
- Boost growth
- Promote wound healing
- Skin health and aging
- Fight colds and viruses
- Keep your metabolism healthy
- Improve your taste/smell
- Improve blood clotting
- Balance thyroid function
- Sexual health
- Hormone balance
What is zinc used for in the body?
Numerous features of cellular metabolism rely on zinc. This mineral is the second most concentrated one in our body. Zinc is necessary for wound healing, neurological function, reproduction, immune system, growth and development.
Zinc plays three different roles in our bodies:
- Catalytic role – In over 300 zinc-dependent enzymes.
- Structural role – Essential for the structure of proteins and cell membranes.
- Regulatory role – Regulates gene expression, cell signaling, growth and development.
What Does Zinc Have to do with Bleeding Gums?
You might be wondering why zinc is so important to our gums. This is because zinc helps with wound healing. Research suggests that periodontal health is significantly better with a diet containing zinc. And that those that are zinc are at a higher risk for periodontal disease.
When paired with vitamin A, zinc will help transport vitamin A in the blood to fight inflammation. So what’s fighting all the damaging plaque that is forming around the pockets surrounding your teeth… Zinc is the main source of defense! If you aren’t getting enough zinc then your body isn’t able to transport vitamin A to your gums to help heal them naturally.
What is the daily dose of Zinc from food?
It’s important to focus on foods that provide the daily amount of zinc from your diets. Your body does not store excess zinc so we have to make sure we are consuming it daily. The recommended daily dose of zinc:
- 8 mg/women
- 11 mg/men
- 3-5 mg/children
- 25 mg/pregnant women
You can get zinc from a wide variety of foods:
- Dairy products
- Whole grains
Summary of Recommended Food Sources of Zinc: Table of oz/mg amount of each:
|Food||Serving Size (oz)||Zinc (mg)|
Table: Food sources rich in Zinc.
Oysters are one of the most nutrient dense forms of zinc. Here’s an oyster based zinc supplement.
Food preparation and diet considerations: Vegetarians are also at the top of the list for zinc deficiency. Sure, they might be eating more legumes and whole grains in place of meat to reach their daily intake, but the bioavailability of zinc in those foods are key. Zinc in legumes, whole grains, and other vegetables is less bioavailability because they contain phytates, which may bind to zinc and inhibit absorption.
A quick fix for this is to soak legumes and beans before cooking them and let them sit until sprouts form. This technique has been proven to increase the bioavailability of zinc.
Safety First – Zinc Toxicity
Can you overdose on Zinc?
Zinc deficiency has been researched far more than zinc toxicity. This is because zinc toxicity doesn’t come into play until large amounts of zinc is ingested, over 200 mg. Too much zinc can inhibit copper and iron absorption.
Signs and symptoms of toxicity:
- Epigastric pain
If you’re taking daily zinc supplements be cautious of the amount you’re taking. If you notice any of the symptoms of zinc toxicity, you should back off immediately.
Here’s a link to an affordable and good quality zinc supplement.
*Always consult with a physician before taking dietary supplements*
Is Zinc Your Missing Nutrient?
Zinc is one of the most needed and more underrated mineral our bodies need to function fully. When I have patients with persistent bleeding gums, I test for nutrient deficiencies and talk with them about their diet.
In fact, my new book The Dental Diet is a guide to eating better for oral and overall health. The dental issues we are seeing today are a direct result of our poor diets – it’s time we fixed this. You can order your copy here today! To your best health.
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