Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving

Don’t fear the fluoride

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My dad suggested that I read an article in The Coast last month and, slacker that I am, I just got around to reading it. It was written by the founder of “Safe Water Halifax”, an organization opposed to the addition of fluoride to our municipal water supply. Honestly, I find it appalling that an article could be written by a homeopath and student of holistic nutrition, claim to be supportive of science, and yet contain zero links to scientific research. This is not an opinion piece. This is not a personal blog. This is a newspaper article which makes claims regarding the safety of fluoridation yet cites no research to support the claims. The argument? Fluoride is poison and the government has no right to added things to our water.

If fluoride in our water is poisoning us then why is there absolutely no mention in the article of the ailments it’s inflicting upon us? I did blog last year about a report claiming that fluoride in drinking water lowered IQs in children, and was pretty much responsible for every imaginable illness (but wait!… I thought that was wheat…). A statement by the Institute for Science in Medicine provides some background on the history of municipal water fluoridation. It states that at levels between 0.6 and 1.1 ppm there is a wide margin of safety while providing the benefit of increased tooth and bone strength and decreased cavities in children by 20-40%. Only at concentrations greater than 4.0 ppm does it become a risk. And that risk is more cosmetic (i.e. stained teeth) than anything. In Halifax, the average level of fluoride in the water supply is 0.72 ppm. Well within safe limits.

I think that it’s great for people to question the decisions of government and to do research to look out for our own best interests. However, when the crux of your argument is that you distrust anything the government is adding to your food it’s not exactly a solid argument. Without the addition of iron and folic acid to white flour many more people would be suffering from iron-deficiency anemia and many more children would be born with neural tube defects. Iron, like fluoride, is a mineral. Iron, like fluoride (and nearly everything) can be toxic in excessive amounts. Yet, it would be physically impossible to overdose on iron by eating bread. The same can be said for drinking fluoridated tap water. You would die from hyponatremia before you would perish from fluoride toxicity. The fortification of flour with folic acid has been the most effective measure in reducing neural tube defects, such as spina bifida. The addition of iodine to table salt reduced the incidence of goiters and mental deficiency significantly in North America. However, iodine deficiency is becoming a public health concern again as we increasingly use un-iodized salts such as sea salt and rely on un-fortified processed foods. I could go on and on… What about vitamin D added to milk? Calcium and vitamin D enriched milk alternatives?

My point is that the addition of vitamins and minerals to foods and beverages is done to benefit the population. There is no more reason to fear the fluoride in our water than there is to fear all of the other examples above.

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Author: Diana

I'm a registered dietitian from Nova Scotia, living and working in Ontario, Canada. My goal is to help people relearn how to have a healthy relationship with food.

8 thoughts on “Don’t fear the fluoride

  1. It seems that we’re becoming a nation of Luddites with every scientific advancement now thought to be bad. Advanced farming techniques that increase production? GMOs! Inoculation against disease? They’ll GIVE you a disease! Iodine and now fluoride: poisonous!

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    • Given the recent NSA revelations I suppose it’s not hard to understand why many people would suspect that the government doesn’t have our best interests at heart. However, doing a little research can go a long way in combatting fear mongering.

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  2. I do not mean to come at you here with your article, But i have to clarify what you have written about fluoride. The fluoride that is added to our water supplies here in canada is not true fluoride. It is Hydrofluorosilicic Acid and it is a toxic waste by-product from the phosphate fertilizer industry. It is illegal for these fertilizer companies to allow the waste to enter the air as it is incredibly harmful to the environment, and it is also illegal for these companies to dump the chemicals into lakes, rivers and water-ways. But yet “legal” through a loop-hole to put it into the water systems of municipalities. This long out-dated practice needs to come to an end. The studies when looked for properly are in an abundant showing that it is indeed detrimental to the health of a new born baby brain, along with the fact that it causes skeletal fluorosis, dental fluorosis among many other health issues. The ingestion of fluoridation chemicals does not need to be taking place. Topical real fluoride can continue to be implemented but not for the ingestion of fluoride. It’s unethical to force people against their will to drink these chemicals who, people with liver disfunction’s cannot even process this chemical properly. There are many other arguments against it. Thats all I hope that you have a good day. I do not mean for this comment to come off sounding like an attack, I just wanted some things clarified.

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    • Thanks for your comment. I can’t attest to know much about the type of fluoride added to the water supply. However, I did come across this petition which clarifies the issue somewhat. It seems that the fluoride ions readily separate when hydrofluorosilicic acid is mixed with water. As with any mineral supplement, it is does dependent. Over certain amounts, yes, it would be toxic, but those amounts are well above what it permitted in our water supply.

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      • Also, after doing more research today. As of Feb 20 2014 according to the March 2014 journal of Lancet Neurology, Fluoride is now classified along with arsenic, lead, methyl mercury and other contaminants to be a developmental neurotoxin. It is harmful and should be ceased.

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  3. Interesting. I can’t find an article pertaining to fluoride in the March issue. Do you have a link you could share? Thanks!

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  4. yupp here you go, you’ll have to go to the right hand side, click read full text and sign up to the lancet, then you will have access to the article.

    http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(13)70278-3/fulltext

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  5. Pingback: Top 10 food and medicine myths brought to you by Big Food and Big Pharma |

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