Fluoride is commonly recommended by the dental profession to help prevent tooth decay. Not only do dentists give fluoride treatments, it is added to toothpaste, water supplies, pesticides, post-harvest fumigants and medications.
Unfortunately, the potential toxicity of fluoride is little understood. Fluoride is more toxic than lead and less toxic than arsenic. Mottling of the teeth – those brown or white patches – appear in about one third of children in areas with fluoridated water. While unsightly, this is only the beginning of the possible problems associated with fluoride intake.
Animals given fluoride at common levels of exposure manifest attention-deficit symptoms. It also has been shown to reduce IQ scores. Fluorosis, an arthritic bone disease easily mistaken for osteoarthritis, is associated with high levels of fluoride. Thyroid enlargement is also seen in areas with high levels of fluorosis.
Fluoride may interfere with iodine metabolism.1 Iodine deficiency, which leads to symptoms of low thyroid function such as fatigue and an increase in weight, can be caused by a high intake of either fluoride or the related compound bromine, a substance frequently added to white bread and fruit juices.
Fluoride also interferes with energy production. People with heart and kidney problems are particularly at risk from fluoride exposure.” 2
“Those with poor diets are more prone to damage from fluoride. Calcium is very protective from the toxic effects of fluoride. There is general agreement…that calcium deficiency does increase the severity of the manifestations of fluoride intoxication.” It is fairly reliable to conclude that “the lower the calcium intake, the more prevalent and more severe the mottling.”1
Deficiencies of protein, magnesium, and vitamin C may also increase fluoride toxicity. In rats, fluoride caused convulsive seizures. This was believed to be due to an aggravation of a low magnesium intake.2
A number of nutrients protect against fluoride toxicity, including vitamin C, calcium and magnesium, zinc and iodine, as well as a good source of protein. It is almost impossible to avoid exposure to fluoride, but drinking filtered water, not buying fluoridated toothpaste and taking good quality supplements can help minimize the side effects associated with fluoride intake.
- Massler, Maury, and Schour, Isaac, “Relation of endemic dental fluorosis to malnutrition,” JADA, February 1952, p. 164-165.
- Clement International Corporation, Toxicological Profile for Fluorides, Hydrogen Fluoride, and Fluorine (F), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, April 1993, pp. 112-113.