Nutrition 101: Fluoride

Written By: Carolyn Berry, RD

Title: Registered Dietitian

Alumni: University of British Columbia

Last Updated on:

Fluoride is a trace mineral consumed most abundantly in drinking water.

Recomme​nded​ Intake

The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for fluoride are shown below:

Age Group Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) per Day Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) per Day
19 years and up 4 mg male3 mg female 10 mg
Kids and Youth
1 to 3 years 0.7 mg 1.3 mg
4 to 8 years 1 mg 2.2 mg
9 to 13 years 2 mg 10 mg
14 to 18 years 3 mg 10 mg
Special Considerations
Pregnant women 14 years and up 3 mg 10 mg
Lactating women 14 years and up 3 mg 10 mg

What Does ​Fluoride Do?

Fluoride occurs naturally in the body as calcium fluoride. Calcium fluoride is mostly found in the bones and teeth. During the development of the baby and permanent teeth, fluoride combines with calcium and phosphorus to form fluorapatite, making teeth resistant to cavities and decay. Fluoride also stimulates new bone growth and is being studied for treatment of osteoporosis.

Fluoride deficiency is rare, resulting in dental caries as the main issue. Inadequate fluoride intake may also be associated with lower bone density.

Consuming too much fluoride causes a condition called dental fluorosis, where the enamel becomes porous and the teeth become stained and pitted. Mild fluorosis causes white lines or streaks on the teeth but has no effect on tooth function. More severe fluorosis may cause tooth pain that affects chewing as well as significant discoloration of teeth.

Top Fluoride-Rich Foods

Fluoride is found in most water, soil, plants, and animals. Most foods have very low concentrations of fluoride (usually well below 0.05 mg/100 g food). The best sources of fluoride are water (not bottled), tea, and seafood. Natural sodium fluoride is found in the ocean, so most seafood contains fluoride. We also get exposed to fluoride through dental products, like mouthwash and toothpaste.

The addition of fluoride to our tap water has been shown to be the most effective and inexpensive way to offer fluoride protection to the largest number of people. Research has shown decreased rates of tooth decay and cavities, especially in children, in places where fluoride is added to the water.

Nutrition Facts Label and t​he % Daily Value

There is no established % daily value for fluoride in either the United States or Canada.

Nutrition 101

fluoride, micronutrient - minerals, minerals, vitamins - minerals


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