Healthy Smiles Premier Dental

Can you be healthy on a vegetarian diet that is also healthy for your smile?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that “an evidence-based review showed that a vegetarian diet is associated with a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease, with lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, lower blood  pressure, and lower rates of hypertension and type 2 diabetes than meat eaters. Vegetarians also tend to have a lower body mass index, lower overall cancer rates, and lower risk of chronic disease.”

Global research over recent decades has shown that both lacto-ovo vegetarians (who consume dairy and eggs) and vegans (who do not) can meet their nutritional needs in areas that were once of concern


As long as enough calories in a balanced diet are consumed, plant-based proteins are adequate and combining foods is not necessary to get “complete” proteins.


The American Dietetic Association says iron deficiency is no more common among vegetarians than meat eaters, but everyone should have a blood test to be sure.

Vitamin B12

Plants have little, but nutritional yeast, tempeh, chlorella, Nori seaweed, and Cremnini mushrooms, as well as fortified foods or supplementation, can provide enough. But a primary reason for the deficiency is a genetic issue called the intrinsic factor unrelated to diet, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Vitamin D

Dairy products and eggs are rich in vitamin D, but the National Institute of Health recommends exposing some of your skin to the sun for 5-10 minutes twice a week without sunscreen. Those who are unable to do this exposure, have dark skin, or who are vegans can eat foods fortified with D or take supplements (adults need 600-800 IU’s a day)


According to the Vegetarian Resource Group, plant sources like broccoli, soybeans, and almonds are well-absorbed. Meat and dairy are high in phosphorus, which actually pulls calcium from the body. But most nutritionists feel that many people need to take 1000 mg. of calcium and 500 mg. of magnesium supplements daily, according to Phyllis Balche in Prescription for Nutritional Healing.

Omega 3 fatty acids

While plant foods (except algae) have lower levels than fish oils, the primary benefit of the omega 3s is for cardiovascular disease, which is not an issue for most vegetarians.

So what nutrients will help your smile, regardless of whether you like a plant-based diet or love steaks and fish?

The key to health, nutritionists agree, is to stick to whole foods, avoiding sugar and fructose, which can be substituted by alternative sweeteners like Xylitol (which actually fights periodontal bacteria). Avoid refined foods like white bread, pasta, and rice, which turns into sugar in the body. Substitute whole grains and seeds, as well as lots of vegetables.

Calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D are essential to keeping your teeth strong . However, your gums can be protected from infections if you take 1000-2000 mgs. of vitamin C several times a day (a “water soluble” vitamin that leaves the body through the urine in about five hours).

And, of course, whatever you eat, be sure to brush for two minutes twice a day, ideally after breakfast (because this will remove oral bacteria accumulated while sleeping) and after your last snack in the evening, when you floss

But no matter how good your efforts, it’s just as important that you have a professional cleaning at least twice a year from your dental hygienist, since she has the tools and techniques to help to avoid periodontal disease. If you have not had this done in the past year, call us today to set an appointment.