For those seeking to reduce their fluoride intake, we have compiled a few suggestions.
How can I avoid fluoride from my tap water?
If you live in a community that fluoridates its water supply you may be able to avoid ingesting fluoride in your own home but you need to be aware that you will have little choice outside of your home environment.
There are several options to avoid drinking the fluoride that is added to the water supply. Unfortunately, each of these options will cost money (unless you happen to have access to a free source of spring water). The options include:
Water filtration: Many water filters (e.g., Brita & Pur) use an activated carbon filter that does not remove fluoride. Water filters that do remove fluoride include reverse osmosis, deionizers that use ion-exchange resin, and activated alumina.
Spring water: Most spring water contains very low levels of fluoride (generally less than 0.1 ppm).
Water Distillation: Distilling water is an effective way of removing fluoride from water. Whereas a water filter is installed directly into the sink, a distillation unit is a separate device that can be stored on your countertop.
What else can I do to minimize fluoride exposure for myself and my family?
- If you’re using fluoridated toothpaste, consider switching to a non-fluoridated alternative (which you can find at most health food stores). Young children, who don’t have well developed swallowing-reflexes, often swallow a lot of toothpaste when brushing, which can cause disfiguring dental fluorosis and contribute greatly to total systemic intake. Also, even when the toothpaste is not swallowed, the fluoride may cross the gum membrane and enter the bloodstream.
- If your child is using infant formula, it is imperative to avoid making the formula with fluoridated tap water. Infant formula reconstituted with fluoridated water delivers a very high dose of fluoride to a young baby. For instance, infant formula produced with fluoridated water contains 100 to 200 times more fluoride (1,000 ppb) than is found naturally in breast milk (5-10 ppb). In fact, while breast-fed infants receive the LOWEST body burden (mg/kg/day) in the population, they receive the HIGHEST body burden if they receive fluoridated formula.
- Minimize consumption of processed beverages (e.g. soda and reconstituted juice). Soda and juice made from concentrate are often manufactured with fluoridated tap water, and hence, have fluoride levels similar to fluoridated water.
- If you regularly drink non-organic wine or grape juice consider buying only organic varieties. Many commercially-grown grapes in the US are sprayed with a fluoride pesticide called Cryolite. The residues of this pesticide can result in high levels of fluoride in wine or grape juice. In the case of wine, if you don’t want to spend the extra money buying organic, consider purchasing a European brand instead of a Californian brand, as Europe uses much less cryolite on its vineyards.
- Be careful of drinking too much green or black tea. Tea almost always has elevated levels of fluoride and can contribute a substantial amount to ones total fluoride intake.
- Minimize consumption of mechanically-deboned chicken. Mechanically deboned chicken (e.g. Chicken McNuggets) has been found to contain elevated levels of fluoride due to the incorporation of ground bone particles (which are high in fluoride) into the meat.
- If you live in a country which allows fluoridated salt to be sold, make sure that the salt you buy is unfluoridated. Consumption of fluoridated salt can greatly increase a persons fluoride exposure.
- Check to see if any prescription medicines you are taking contain fluorine. If so, ask your doctor if there are any appropriate alternatives as some fluorine-containing pharmaceuticals (e.g. Cipro) can metabolize into fluoride ion within the body, thereby increasing the bodys exposure to fluoride.
- If you are going to have surgery, ask your doctors if they can use a non-fluorinated anesthetic. Fluorinated anesthetics such as Enflurane, Isoflurane and Sevoflurane will produce high peak levels of fluoride in blood for up to 24 hours.
- Avoid the use of teflon coated pans. Teflon-coated pans contain fluoride, and as such may increase the fluoride content of food.
Eat More Fresh Food, Less Processed Food
When water is fluoridated, it is not just the water that is fluoridated, but all beverages and foods that are made with the water.
As a general rule, therefore, the more processed a food is, the more fluoride it has. The good news is that the naturally occurring levels of fluoride in most fresh water (e.g., spring water) and most fresh food (e.g., fruits, vegetables, grain, eggs, milk) is very low. Use this fact to your advantage by trying to shift as much as you can from processed foods to fresh. Also, since processed beverages (e.g., sodas, reconstituted juices, sports drinks) contribute far more to fluoride intake than processed foods, it is most important to focus on reducing your consumption of processed beverages.
There is more comprehensive information on this topic at our sister organisation in the US, Fluoride Action Network.