There’s more to good oral health than just brushing and flossing – what you eat also impacts your smile. In honor of National Nutrition Month, here are some of the most important vitamins and minerals to keep your smile healthy.
Calcium. Growing up, you were probably taught that drinking milk would make you strong. That’s because milk is a good source of calcium, which helps build bones and provide structural support. Calcium strengthens your enamel and jawbone, so getting plenty of it is essential for healthy teeth. In addition to milk, good sources of calcium include cheese, yogurt, broccoli and salmon.1
Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium while boosting bone mineral density, so it’s crucial to get an adequate amount of vitamin D to get the most out of your calcium intake.2 Your body naturally makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to the sunlight, but it can also be found in fortified foods and drinks such as milk and cereal.3
Potassium. Like vitamin D, potassium improves bone mineral density. But it also works with magnesium to prevent blood from becoming too acidic, which can take calcium away from bones and teeth.4 Bananas are famously good sources of potassium, but sweet potatoes, tomatoes and prunes also contain high levels of the mineral.5
Phosphorus. This mineral occurs naturally in many foods, such as cheese, fish and nuts, so you’re likely getting plenty of it – and that’s a good thing. Phosphorus teams with magnesium and calcium to help mineralize bones and teeth.4
Vitamin K. Think of this vitamin as a shield – it helps block substances that break down bone. It also helps your body produce osteocalcin, a protein that supports bone strength.4 Eating leafy greens, such as cooked kale, collards and cooked spinach, will help you reach your daily vitamin K quota.6
Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps strengthen gums and the supporting soft tissue in the mouth, which is just as important as keeping teeth strong. You probably already know that citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, but you can also find it in potatoes and leafy greens.7
The old saying “you are what you eat” is true – even for your smile. Fuel your body with the proper nutrition and it will reward you with a healthy smile that lasts a lifetime.