Minerals and trace elements - Fluoride
The main function of fluoride in the body is in the mineralisation of bones and teeth. Fluoride also protects the teeth from dental caries (tooth decay) and is now routinely added to most toothpastes.
In rare cases, very large amounts of (non-dietary) fluoride can cause fluorosis. Symptoms may be mild such as mottling and crumbling of the teeth, or more severe causing skeletal changes such as calcification of ligaments and tendons which leads to muscle, joint and bone problems.
Fluoride is found in fluoridated water, tea and fish. The diet provides only about 25% of total intake. The addition of fluoride to toothpaste is important in those areas where the water supply is low in fluoride.
© British Nutrition Foundation