Fluorides are among the important mineral constituents of the human body. Almost all of the body fluoride is found in the bones and teeth (nearly 99%) in the form of calcium fluoride. In teeth, fluoride is a key component that helps prevent dental cavities and tooth decay. Also, bones are vital to protect our internal organs; they also provide shape and structure to our body and anchor muscles. Fluorides are used to help treat conditions that cause bone loss such as in women after menopause.
Most water sources contain some amounts of dissolved fluorides in them. Besides, when the role of fluoride in fighting dental problems was established, fluoridation of water supplies became a regular practice in many countries; agents of fluorine are routinely added to drinking water. Additionally, fluoride compounds (mostly sodium fluoride) became a steady component of dental products such as toothpastes and mouthwashes.
Due to all these factors, children get exposed to higher than normal concentrations of the fluorine compound and may experience some fluoride side effects. During teeth formation, such an excessive exposure may cause the mottling of teeth, resulting in a condition called dental fluorosis. Removal of fluoride from the body is through urinary excretion. However, a controlled clinical study in young children, conducted in 1994 and published in the Pediatric Research journal, found that only about 20% of the absorbed fluoride is excreted by them, whereas the rate of excretion was about 50% in adults.
According to the US National Academy of Sciences, Food and Nutrition Board, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of fluoride for adolescents and adults is 3-4 milligrams per day and about 0.7-2 milligrams per day for children. Breast milk contains significantly lower levels of fluoride; however, the fluoride requirement in infants (up to 6-months old) is of a very low order, at about 0.01 milligrams per day.
Foods that contain fluorides in high levels include the following:
- Dill herb
- Unsweetened grape juice
- Vegetables such as spinach, tomatoes, asparagus, and carrots
- Orange, grapefruit, and apple juice
- Beans and peas
- Seedless raisins
- White rice
Ingestion of fluoride compounds may occur in the form of dental products, processed foods, beverages (including tea; tea leaves contain dissolved fluorides), pharmaceutical products, from Teflon pans (when used to boil water or cook food), and even in certain pesticides. Thus, it is always recommended to take the advice of a suitable healthcare professional before bringing about any alteration to your regular food habits and diet.
Hamrick I, Counts SH. Vitamin and mineral supplements. Wellness and Prevention. December 2008:35(4);729-747.
Eksterand J, Fomon SJ, Zeigler EE, Nelson SE. Fluoride pharmacokinetics in infancy. Pediatr Res 1994a;35:157-63.
ADA Division of Communications. For the dental patient: infants, formula and fluoride. J Am Dent Assoc. 2007; 138(1):132.
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002420.htm (accessed on 11/24/2014)
http://fluoridealert.org/issues/sources/ (accessed on 11/24/2014)
http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000146000000000000000.html?categories=19,10,8 (accessed on 11/24/2014)
http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/opinions_layman/fluoridation/en/l-3/2.htm (accessed on 11/24/2014)
Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:
Yadavı, R. K., Sharma, S., Bansal, M., Singh, A., Panday, V., & Maheshwari, R. (2012). Effects of fluoride accumulation on growth of vegetables and crops in Dausa District, Rajasthan, India.
Chan, L., Mehra, A., Saikat, S., & Lynch, P. (2013). Human exposure assessment of fluoride from tea (Camellia sinensis L.): A UK based issue?. Food Research International, 51(2), 564-570.
Lv, H. P., Lin, Z., Tan, J. F., & Guo, L. (2013). Contents of fluoride, lead, copper, chromium, arsenic and cadmium in Chinese Pu-erh tea. Food research international, 53(2), 938-944.
Rocha, R. A., Devesa, V., & Vélez, D. (2013). In vitro study of intestinal transport of fluoride using the Caco-2 cell line. Food and chemical toxicology, 55, 156-163.
Craig, L., Lutz, A., Berry, K. A., & Yang, W. (2015). Recommendations for fluoride limits in drinking water based on estimated daily fluoride intake in the Upper East Region, Ghana. Science of the Total Environment, 532, 127-137.
Fojo, C., Figueira, M. E., & Almeida, C. M. M. (2013). Fluoride content of soft drinks, nectars, juices, juice drinks, concentrates, teas and infusions marketed in Portugal. Food Additives & Contaminants: Part A, 30(4), 705-712.