Bleeding Gums May Be A Sign You Need More Vitamin C In Your Diet

Gum bleeding is the result of many factors including inflammation as a result of pathogenic bacteria in the mouth. Also, on a systemic level a deficiency in the building block of connective tissue: namely Vitamin C.

Vitamin C is essential in connective tissue healing, contributing to enzymes that properly assemble the stable collagen triple-helix conformation.

When oral bacteria are the primary cause of periodontal inflammation, oral hygiene techniques including home care and office treatments like a cleaning or root planing are helpful to eliminate the bacteria, and reduce inflammatory reactions the cause progressive bone loss.

A new University of Washington study published Feb. 1 in Nutrition Reviews suggests you should also check your intake of vitamin C. The study showed that gingival bleeding tendency, and bleeding in the eye, or retinal hemorrhaging, were associated with low vitamin C levels in the bloodstream.

Retinal hemorrhages are most common in high altitude climbers. They can also be caused by hypertension, a blockage of a retinal vein, anemia, leukemia or by diabetes.

The study stated that both a gum bleeding and retinal bleeding may be a sign of general trouble in one's microvascular bleeding tendency in the brain, heart and kidneys. They found that upping daily intake of vitamin C in those people with low vitamin C plasma levels helped to reverse these bleeding issues.

They did not find that raising vitamin C prevented strokes or other serious health outcomes but that vitamin C recommendations originally designed to protect against scurvy (10 mg daily) are too low.

One recommendation is that non-processed foods such as kale, peppers or kiwis should be added into your diet, or a supplement of about 100 to 200 milligrams of vitamin C daily. The upper limit is 2,000 mg a day. High doses of vitamin C could worsen iron overload and damage body tissues

Avoiding vitamin C-rich fruits such as kiwis or oranges is typical in a low-carb diet. This may lead to a vitamin C intake that is too low and is associated with an increased bleeding tendency. When you who eat only lean meats and avoid vitamin-rich meats, you may be at a high risk for a low vitamin C intake.

The accompanying literature review said that "retinal hemorrhaging and cerebral strokes are associated with increased gingival bleeding tendency, and that (vitamin C) supplementation reverses the retinal bleeding associated with low (vitamin C) plasma levels."

Patients should be aware that there may be many cofactors involved with bleeding gums and the field should be widened to include these factors in diagnosing and preventing the symptoms of gum bleeding.

Journal Reference:

  1. Philippe P Hujoel, Tomotaka Kato, Isabel A Hujoel, Margaux L A Hujoel. Bleeding tendency and ascorbic acid requirements: systematic review and meta-analysis of clinical trials. Nutrition Reviews, 2021; DOI: 10.1093/nutrit/nuaa115