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Fluoride

What is Fluoride?

From the moment a child is born, their bodies are hard at work creating strong bones that will support their frames throughout the entirety of their lives. Fluoride is an essential mineral that aides in the development of strong bones and teeth. Fluoride is derived from the chemical element Fluorine, and works to prevent bone weakening and promote new bone growth.

What does Fluoride do?

Fluoride is best known for its role in preventing tooth decay. While fluoride does help overall bone strength, the effects of fluoride are most visible when it comes to teeth. The formation of teeth involves a combination of phosphorous and calcium. When these two combine they form a structure called hydroxyapatites. When Fluoride is consumed, it immediately intervenes with the crystal and forms an even stronger structure which gives teeth a greater resistance to decay, plaque and weakening.

Additionally, fluoride works towards activating a number of enzymes within the body that help with overall regulation. It’s also credited with having positive effects towards reducing symptoms of osteoporosis. Children with healthy fluoride levels are also less likely to developed cavities during their childhoods.

Where is Fluoride found?

Most public water systems include fluoride as an agent in purified water. This means that for the majority of people, their necessary fluoride consumption happens through the digestion of tap water. It’s important to note that while most cities do regulate fluoride levels in water, there are exceptions. For this reason, it’s important not to assume that fluoride is found in all tap water.

Cities that do incorporate fluoride into their public water content provide the means to fluoride consumption in cooking. Food that is cooked with fluoridated water will retain the benefits of fluoride as well.

Outside of tap water, there are some foods that contain fluoride naturally. These include teas and gelatins that are available for consumption. Sodium fluoride is present in the ocean, therefore, most seafood contains fluoride as well.

It’s important that infants receive proper amounts of fluoride and normally consume this mineral in infant formula or breast milk. Fluoride is a common ingredient in toothpaste, which is how older children are exposed to the mineral which helps strengthen their teeth and prevent decay.

What happens when someone has a Fluoride deficiency?

It’s extremely rare that people end up with a fluoride deficiency as it is commonly present in public water systems and toothpaste. However, it does occasionally occur in areas where water is not fluoridated or children do not have access to proper dental care. The symptoms of fluoride deficiency can include a high number of cavities or weak or decaying teeth and bones.

Helpful food sources, supplements and additional benefits of Fluoride

Fluoride is available in supplemental form by prescription only. This helps regulate fluoride intake, because too much fluoride in the system can lead to stomach cramps, spotted tooth enamel, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. More often than not, fluoride prescriptions are written for young children who live in remote areas that do not provide fluoridated water.

Fluoride – AIs (Adequate Intakes)

Infants
0-6 months
7-12 months
Milligrams per Day
0.01
0.5
Children
1-3 years
4-8 years

0.7
1.0
Males
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
50-70 years
> 70 years

2
3
4
4
4
4
Females
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
50-70 years
> 70 years

2
3
3
3
3
3
Pregnancy
< 19 years
19-30 years
31-50 years

3
3
3
Lactation
< 19 years
19-30 years
31-50 years

3
3
3

 

Sources:
http://www.ada.org/3088.aspx
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002420.htm
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1068-fluoride.aspx?activeIngredientId=1068&activeIngredientName=fluoride&source=1
http://www.vitalhealthzone.com/nutrition/minerals/fluoride.html
http://nutrition.about.com/od/therapeuticnutrition1/g/fluoride.htm
USDA Dietary Reference Intakes