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Bleeding gums may indicate a vitamin C deficiency, study finds

Experts say the eyes can also be affected by low levels of vitamin C

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Photo (c) bojanstory - Getty Images
A new study conducted by researchers from the University of Washington found that consumers who experience bleeding gums may need to increase their vitamin C intake. 

According to their findings, bleeding gums aren’t always an indication of gum disease. Instead, it could highlight a vitamin C deficiency. 

“When you see your gums bleed, the first thing you should think about is not, I should brush more,” said researcher Philippe Hujoel. “You should try to figure out why your gums are bleeding. And vitamin C deficiency is one possible reason.” 

Monitoring vitamin C intake

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from 15 previous studies that included information on nearly 10,000 participants. They assessed the frequency that participants experienced bleeding gums and also examined their diets to measure their vitamin C intake.

The study revealed that bleeding gums don’t always mean that a trip to the dentist is necessary. In many instances, bleeding gums can be a sign that consumers need to incorporate more vitamin C into their diets. Vitamin C deficiencies can also present as bleeding in the eyes, and in both cases, upping vitamin C consumption was effective in eliminating those symptoms. 

The researchers explained that the link between vitamin C deficiencies and bleeding gums had been widely popular a few decades ago, but it has since been replaced by the idea that consumers need to improve their dental hygiene habits. However, the researchers explained that not all gum bleeding is the same, and monitoring vitamin C intake can be a good way for consumers to better understand their bodies. 

“There was a time in the past when gingival bleeding was more generally considered to be a potential marker for a lack of vitamin C,” said Hujoel. “But over time, that’s been drowned out or marginalized by this over-attention to treating the symptom of bleeding with brushing or flossing, rather than treating the cause.” 

It’s important to note that bleeding of both the eyes and the gums can also be an indication of more serious microvascular issues. However, the researchers recommend that consumers stay mindful of their vitamin C intake and consult with their doctors regarding any questions or concerns. 

For consumers looking to add more vitamin C into their diets, the researchers suggest fruits like oranges or kiwis and vegetables like kale and peppers. 

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