Washington: Vitamin D is associated with a 50 per cent reduction in tooth decay, according to new research.
The new review of studies of children in several countries highlighted the potential role for vitamin D in helping to prevent tooth decay or dental caries.
The review, published in the journal Nutrition Reviews, encompassed 24 controlled clinical trials, spanning the 1920s to the 1980s, on approximately 3,000 children in several countries.
These trials showed that vitamin D was associated with an approximately 50 per cent reduction in the incidence of tooth decay.
In the trials Dr Philippe Hujoel from University of Washington reviewed, vitamin D levels in children were increased through the use of supplemental UV radiation or by supplementing the children`s diet with cod-liver oil or other products containing the vitamin.
The clinical trials he reviewed were conducted in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Austria, New Zealand and Sweden.
Trials were conducted in institutional settings, schools, medical and dental practices, or hospitals. The subjects were children or young adults between the ages of 2 and 16 years, with a weighted mean age of 10 years.
Hujoel`s findings come as no surprise to researchers familiar with past vitamin D studies.
According to Dr Michael Hollick, professor of medicine at the Boston University Medical Center, "the findings from the University of Washington reaffirm the importance of vitamin D for dental health".
"Children who are vitamin D deficient have poor and delayed teeth eruption and are prone to dental caries," he said.
"Whether this is more than just a coincidence is open to debate. In the meantime, pregnant women or young mothers can do little harm by realising that vitamin D is essential to their offspring`s health. Vitamin D does lead to teeth and bones that are better mineralised," Hujoel said in a statement.
While vitamin D`s role in supporting bone health has not been disputed, significant disagreement has historically existed over its role in preventing caries, Hujoel noted.
The American Medical Association and the US National Research Council concluded around 1950 that vitamin D was beneficial in managing dental caries.
The American Dental Association said otherwise - based on the same evidence. In 1989, the National Research Council, despite new evidence supporting vitamin D`s caries-fighting benefits, called the issue "unresolved".
Current reviews by the Institute of Medicine, the US Department of Human Health and Service and the American Dental Association draw no conclusions on the vitamin D evidence as it relates to dental caries.