Fluorine is a poisonous, highly reactive gas that does not actually exist in nature in its elemental form, but only by chemical compounds. Fluoride forms when fluorine combines with another element. The trace element fluoride is one of the important building blocks in the human body and is mostly stored in the teeth and bones. Fluoride is absorbed through the diet and often toothpaste, table salt or mineral water is added to prevent tooth decay. These measures are however controversial.
Fluorine in food
Fluorine is in relatively few foods. These include sea fish, seafood, nuts, black tea, meat and soy products. However, fluorine is mainly contained in tap and mineral water. In fluoro-poor areas in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom, extra fluorine is sometimes added to tap water to prevent population deficiency. The recommended daily dose of fluoride is 1.5 to 4 milligrams. Two milligrams of fluorine are included in:
- 379 g pork liver
- 405 g of plaice
- 2 kg of muscle meat
- 1240 grams of shrimp
- 1505 g butter
- 10 kg of vegetables
Fluorine in the body
Fluoride is responsible in the human body for the strengthening of the bone structure and the hardening of the enamel. As a result, the fluorine protects the teeth from environmental influences and acids and thus from tooth decay. 95 percent of fluoride in the body is stored in the teeth and bones - the rest is in hair, nails and skin. Especially in pregnancy, doctors often recommend increased intake of fluoride, as the baby needs fluoride to form bones and teeth.
Doctors and scientists warn that a fluorine deficiency can lead to tooth decay, osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis and therefore recommend fluorine-containing mineral water, toothpaste and fluorinated tablets. In general, however, this is not necessary because in a normal diet already enough fluorine is absorbed through the drinking water and food. Much more dangerous than a fluorine deficiency is an overdose of fluorine.
With a regular intake of more than five milligrams of fluorine per day it can come to the so-called fluorosis. This paradoxically leads to a softening of the enamel, which is accompanied by a blotchy discoloration of the teeth. In addition, because high levels of fluoride deprive the body of calcium, fluorosis can also lead to osteoporosis. Also disorders of the muscles and kidney function can occur due to an overdose of fluorine. The tooth stains are particularly common in the first eight years of life, when the teeth develop the most. Therefore: as little fluorine as possible for babies and children. In acute fluorine poisoning it comes to vomiting and seizures. Chronic fluorine poisoning can lead to bone thickening and joint stiffness.
Fluor in the criticism
Opinions about fluoride vary widely. While many physicians and scientists see fluorine as an essential trace element in the body and therefore recommend adding fluorine to food, critics warn against "forced fluorisation" of the population. The fact is that fluorine is definitely important to the human body. Whether it is an additional dose of fluorine on toothpaste, cooking salt or mineral water is necessary, it can be argued. Healthy people with a balanced diet usually do not need additional fluoride intake and can therefore do without fluoro-toothpaste and Co. However, these products can help in people with little tooth enamel or exposed tooth necks.