Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid, or simply ascorbate (the anion of ascorbic acid) is an essential dietary nutrient required as a co-factor for many enzymes.
In a normal adult man of 70 kg mass and with a vitamin C reserve of 1500 mg , scurvy(vit c deficiency disease) will manifest when the vitamin C reserve is reduced to 300 mg. This can be caused by a reduction of 45 mg vitamin C per day for 60 days on a vitamin C-free diet Features of Scurvy include the formation of brown spots on the skin, spongy & swollen gums and bleeding from all mucous membranes. The spots are more abundant on thighs and legs; the person looks pale, feels depressed and is partially immobilized. In advanced stages of scurvy there are open, suppurating wounds, loss of teeth and eventually death.
Making sure of our levels of Vitamin C is something we need to monitor, to help us maintain good health, especially with our fast approaching flu season and the current global COVID 19.
BUT What about side effect of vitamin c?
Dental erosion can be described as the irreversible loss of tooth structure due to the chemical process of acid dissolution . Chewable vitamin C tablets have been reported to have a pH of 2.3 and the critical point at which enamel-outer layer of tooth dissolves is around pH 5.5. The buffering potential of saliva act to counteract the effects of the acidic challenge. If, however, the protective potential is limited and the exposure of acid is continual and at a lower than critical pH, the irreversible loss of dental hard tissues will ensue . The acid in the citrus fruit is just as bad for our teeth, if not worse, than the popular soft drinks that we are all so cautious of.
When patients come into the clinic and tell us they have been experiencing some sensitivity in their teeth, we ask about their diet. Have you been drinking lots of soft drink or juice ? When we examine their teeth, we can often easily see the effects that this acid has had. Sadly, sometimes the enamel has been washed away completely. We then recommend that they use a sensitive toothpaste to help alleviate the symptoms.
Now the question is how to protect our teeth from damaging level of vitamin c?
-Have a drink of water after you have had your Vitamin tablet or eaten your orange. This will help reduce the amount of acid sitting on your teeth.
-Our enamel is at its weakest after we have eaten the Vitamin C (both in its natural form or tablet), so never brush your teeth straight away. Leave teeth for a minimum of 30 minutes before brushing. If we were to brush our teeth immediately after eating an orange or chewing a tablet, we would be helping to brush away the enamel!
-Try simply swallowing the Vitamin C tablet instead of chewing it.
We think that by eating oranges and sipping lemon water all day will help improve our immunity and help ward off colds and flus. Now we know that it certainly does help with this, but it can also erode our precious tooth enamel . We were able to explain to our patient that with just a few simple changes to their habits. they could avoid a similar erosion happening to their teeth.