on all US orders over $99
on all US orders over $99
Fluoride is everywhere – it’s in your toothpaste, your tea, your medicines and your tap water. It’s good for your teeth, but even low levels found in fluoridated drinking water can affect your thyroid health, leaving you tired, depressed and gaining weight despite your healthy lifestyle. Read on to find out the issues fluoride can cause to your thyroid.
Hypothyroidism runs rampant in the US, with more than 15 million people diagnosed, the majority being women over age 40. The thyroid is the master regulator of metabolism, which includes how fast you burn calories and how fast your heart beats. When this butterfly shaped gland slows down, you can feel like your body has gone into hibernation – everything slows down, you hold on to excess weight and you just want to sleep.
Fluoride is an endocrine disruptor that suppresses the thyroid, and this effect is more severe when iodine is deficient. Iodine is an essential building block of thyroid hormones, including T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine), which you may have seen on your blood tests. Fluoride slows thyroid function and mimics these thyroid hormones, and can even damage thyroid tissue. This usually shows up on blood tests as low levels of these hormones and clinical hypothyroidism, but in the case where fluoride mimics thyroid hormones, the levels appear normal even though you have all the symptoms.
A large British study released in 2015 found where tap water was fluoridated at levels of 0.3 milligrams per liter, underactive thyroid rates rose by 30 percent. And rural areas where tap water was not fluoridated, rates of hypothyroidism were almost half of urban areas where fluoride was added to the water. Even if you don’t live in a community that fluoridates water, you are still exposed to it. It’s in almost all processed foods and drinks, from beer and soft drinks to chicken nuggets and baby foods.
In 2015, the US Department of Health and Human Services decreased the prior maximum of fluoride in the water from 1.2 milligrams per liter to 0.7 milligrams per liter. This change was not based on thyroid health but on the prevalence of fluorosis, a condition where too much fluoride causes cosmetic issues with teeth, weakening of the bones, and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Fluoridated water at 1 milligram per liter is estimated to cause fluorosis in one out of every 6 people age 4-21 years.
Statistically, only 0.01 – 0.05 milligrams of fluoride per kilogram of body weight per day are associated with goiter and hypothyroid. Doing the math, this means when the average-sized adult takes in more than 3.5 milligrams of fluoride per day, it can slow the thyroid function and lead to hypothyroidism. This number drops to only 0.7 milligrams per day when you are iodine deficient. This means drinking only 1 liter of fluoridated water per day can lead to hypothyroidism. In children these numbers are even smaller.
Fermented food and drinks are the latest health heros, providing prebiotics and probiotics that boost the immune system and promote digestive health. Kombucha is one of the most popular – its caffeine, fizz and sweetness make it a common substitute for soda drinkers to kick the habit. If you’ve ever made kombucha, you know the main ingredient is tea. Black, green and white tea all absorb fluoride from the soil, and the older the leaves, the more concentrated the fluoride is. It’s even more concentrated in kombucha because the tea is fermented. It only takes 3 cups (24 ounces) of your favorite green tea to reach the levels of fluoride associated with hypothyroid. It takes even less of black tea (including iced tea) and much less of kombucha.
It’s now estimated 20% of all pharmaceuticals contain fluoride. The most commonly used include the fluoroquinolone antibiotics like Cipro and antidepressants like Prozac (fluoxetine). Although most of these drugs have chemical bonds in them strong enough to hold on to the fluoride and escort it out of the body, some, like Cipro, do release large amounts of fluoride into the body and can cause toxicity.