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Fluoride in diet

Definition

Fluoride occurs naturally in the body as calcium fluoride. Calcium fluoride is mostly found in the bones and teeth.

Alternative Names

Diet - fluoride

Function

Small amounts of fluoride help reduce tooth decay. Fluoridation of tap water helps reduce cavities in children by 50 - 60%. Fluorides also help maintain bone structure. Low doses of fluoride salts may be used to treat conditions that cause faster-than-normal bone loss, such as menopause.

Food Sources

Fluoridated water, and food prepared in fluoridated water, contains fluoride. Natural sodium fluoride is in the ocean, so most seafood contains fluoride. Tea and gelatin also contain fluoride.

Side Effects

Fluoride deficiency may appear in the form of increased cavities, and weak bones and teeth. Fluoride supplementation is necessary to prevent cavities, especially in children, if tap water is not fluoridated. As an example, well water is not fluoridated.

Excess fluoride in the diet is extremely rare.

Recommendations

The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommends the following dietary intake for fluoride:

Infants

  • 0 - 6 months: 0.01 milligrams per day (mg/day)
  • 7 - 12 months: 0.5 mg/day

Children

  • 1 - 3 years: 0.7 mg/day
  • 4 - 8 years: 1.0 mg/day
  • 9 - 13 years: 2.0 mg/day

Adolescents and Adults

  • Males age 14 to 18 years: 3.0 mg/day
  • Males over 18 years: 4.0 mg/day
  • Females over 14 years: 3.0 mg/day

The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from the food guide pyramid.

Specific recommendations depend on age and gender, Ask your health care provider which amount is best for you.

References

Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 1997.

Hamrick I, Counts SH. Vitamin and mineral supplements. Wellness and Prevention. December 2008:35(4);729-747.

Mason, MB. Vitamins, trace minerals, and other micronutrients. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 237.


Review Date: 3/7/2009
Reviewed By: Linda Vorvick, MD, Family Physician, Seattle Site Coordinator, Lecturer, Pathophysiology, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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