Bleeding gums may be a sign you need more vitamin C

Current advice from the America Dental Association tells you that if your gums bleed, make sure you are brushing and flossing twice a day because it could be a sign of gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease. So if you are concerned, see your dentist. However, a new University of Washington (UW) study suggests you should also check your intake of vitamin C.

“When you see your gums bleed… You should try to figure out why your gums are bleeding. And vitamin C deficiency is one possible reason,” said the study’s lead author Philippe Hujoel, a practising dentist and professor of oral health sciences in the UW School of Dentistry.

Hujoel’s study, published in Nutrition Reviews, analysed published studies of 15 clinical trials in six countries, involving 1,140 predominantly healthy participants, and data from 8,210 US residents surveyed in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The results showed that bleeding of the gums on gentle probing, or gingival bleeding tendency, were associated with low vitamin C levels in the bloodstream. The researchers found that increasing daily intake of vitamin C in those people with low vitamin C plasma levels helped to reverse these bleeding issues.

Hujoel does recommend people attempt to keep an eye on their vitamin C intake through incorporation of non-processed foods such as kale, peppers or kiwis into their diet, and if you can’t find palatable foods rich in vitamin C, to consider a supplement of about 100-200 milligrams a day.