Fluoride is a trace mineral that, in sufficient quantity, is harmful to mental health. Consider these reasons to avoid fluoridated water and toothpaste.
Fluoride is trace mineral that naturally occurs in the earth’s crust and in water.
It’s also likely added to your toothpaste and drinking water to supposedly build healthy teeth and prevent cavities.
But artificially adding fluoride to drinking water is a highly controversial practice.
The US Centers for Disease Control call the fluoridation of water “one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.” (1)
But the World Health Organization considers fluoride a dangerous naturally occurring toxin. (2)
There’s reason to doubt that it prevents tooth decay since people in pro-fluoride countries don’t have healthier teeth than the rest of the world and many countries have experienced substantial declines in cavities without the use of fluoride. (3)
But there’s little debate about what fluoride, a known neurotoxin, does to your brain.
Here are some of the best reasons to consider avoiding added fluoride for the sake of your mental health.
1. Fluoride Is a Developmental Neurotoxin
A neurotoxin is a substance that’s poisonous or destructive to the tissues in the brain, spinal cord, and nervous system.
A developmental neurotoxin is one that affects the brain during the most susceptible stages of life — before birth and during early childhood.
A recent study in The Lancet, one of the most prestigious and highly regarded medical journals, recommended that fluoride be classified as a developmental neurotoxin along with lead, mercury, arsenic, PCBs, and toluene. (4)
Study authors believe that there is a “pandemic of developmental neurotoxicity” and fluoride is a contributor.
Developmental neurotoxins are linked to increases in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyslexia, loss of IQ points, disruptive behavior, and other cognitive impairments.
There’s also a link between increases in autism and chronic fluoride exposure. (5)
2. The Ingestion of Fluoride Lowers IQ in Children
Harvard School of Public Health and China Medical University did a joint analysis of 27 studies on the effects of fluoride and found a strong correlation between fluoride and adverse effects on brain development. (6)
Children in high-fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ scores than those living in low-fluoride areas.
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This is not the only study that supports these findings.
To date, more than 60 studies have linked fluoride to reduced IQ in both children and adults.
You can find a list of these studies on the Fluoride Action Network, a registered non-profit organization.
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3. Fluoride Facilitates the Entry of Aluminum Into the Brain
In the 1970s, autopsies revealed that Alzheimer’s patients had higher than normal concentrations of neurotoxic aluminum in their brains.
It’s now understood that fluoride may play a role in the aluminum-Alzheimer’s connection.
The blood-brain barrier is a semipermeable membrane designed to keep foreign substances — like fluoride and aluminum — out of the brain.
When aluminum comes into contact with fluoride, it hitches a ride into the brain as aluminum fluoride, bypassing the blood-brain barrier.
The presence of aluminum fluoride in the brain has been linked to Alzheimer’s. (7)
4. Fluoridated Drinking Water Doubles the Risk of Hypothyroidism
Fluoride, especially when added to drinking water, nearly doubles the risk of developing hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). (8)
Fluoride binds with iodine receptors in the thyroid, displacing iodine.
And when there isn’t adequate iodine available, the thyroid can’t synthesize thyroid hormones. (9)
And that is bad news for your brain.
Brain fog, memory loss, lack of focus, depression, anxiety, and other cognitive and mental health issues are some of the most problematic side effects of thyroid disorders.
5. Fluoride Causes Nervous System Degeneration
Once fluoride crosses the blood-brain barrier, it causes degeneration to specific parts of the brain — the hippocampus, the neocortex, and the cerebellum. (10)
The hippocampus is considered the seat of memory and is critical for learning, emotional regulation, and shutting off the stress response.
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The neocortex is considered the most evolved area of the brain where sensory perception, conscious thought, and language skills largely take place.
The cerebellum is responsible for coordination and balance.
The damage from fluoride doesn’t stop at your brain; it continues on to your spinal cord and sciatic nerve.
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6. Fluoride Impairs Pineal Gland Function
The pineal gland is a pea-sized structure in the brain where melatonin is produced.
Melatonin is known mainly as a sleep hormone, but it’s much more than that.
Melatonin is a potent antioxidant that is especially protective of the brain.
It can offset the damage of serious brain disorders including dementia and Alzheimer’s. (11)
It may even help you live longer.
The pineal gland is prone to accumulating deposits in a process known as calcification.
Calcification, in spite of the name, isn’t always caused by calcium.
This affects melatonin production, contributing to insomnia, depression, and accelerated brain aging. (16)
Pineal gland calcification is thought to contribute to dementia and Alzheimer’s since it is significantly higher in patients with these diseases. (17)
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7. Fluoridated Water Leaches Lead from Pipes and Faucets
If you are as old as we are, you’ll remember when paint, gasoline, and water pipes regularly contained lead.
Lead is another neurotoxin that posed a serious health threat, leading to a series of bans.
But if you live in a house built before 1986, you may still have lead water pipes.
Even new brass or chrome-plated faucets contain some lead. (21)
If you have fluoridated water coming through lead pipes and chrome faucets, you have the “perfect neurotoxin storm” since fluoridated water leaches lead and greatly increases the amount of lead in your water — up to 9-fold more. (22)
8. An Increase in Rates of ADHD Is Linked to Fluoride
Rates of ADHD skyrocketed about the same time that fluoridation of water supplies was on the rise in the United States.
This may not be a coincidence since researchers have found a correlation between water fluoridation and ADHD. (25)
States with the largest number of ADHD cases also have the greatest proportion of people drinking fluoridated water.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control, 75% of the US population receives fluoridated water, but the numbers vary greatly by state. (26)
If you live in Washington DC, the chances of fluoridated water coming out of your tap are 100%.
States with the lowest levels of fluoridated water are Montana at 32% and Hawaii at 10%.
9. Fluoride Is Found in Antidepressants and Causes Depression
If you are one of the millions of people taking Prozac, you may have noticed that the generic name for Prozac is fluoxetine.
It’s not a coincidence that the name sounds a lot like fluoride.
Some of the most commonly prescribed drugs contain significant amounts of fluoride, including antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs.
This is disturbing since there’s evidence that fluoride can cause depression. (27)
If you currently take one of these medications, you may want to discuss switching to a fluoride-free antidepressant or try some natural ways to relieve depression instead.
But do not stop taking any medication before talking to your health care professional.
How to Avoid Added Fluoride
For most of us, the main sources of fluoride are toothpaste and drinking water.
It’s not hard to find toothpaste without fluoride, but it’s very hard to find a water filter that removes fluoride.
Use Fluoride-Free Toothpaste
Many “natural” personal care companies like Tom’s of Maine, Jason’s, Nature’s Gate, and Kiss My Face carry fluoride-free versions of toothpaste.
If you live in one of the handful of countries that regularly add fluoride to their water — the US, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and Brazil — you may be surprised to learn that most of the world does not fluoridate their water.
Only 5.7% of the world’s population drinks artificially fluoridated water. (30)
But many parts of the world have naturally high fluoride concentrations in their groundwater that can reach dangerous levels.
These areas are known as “fluoride belts” and include parts of Africa, China, India, and the Middle East.
Get a Fluoride-Reducing Water Filter
If you suspect your water is fluoridated, check with your local water department to find out for sure.
You can look on their website or contact them directly.
In the US, water municipalities are required by law to make this information available to the public.
If you have a well, you can download the government report Quality of Water from Domestic Wells to see if you live in an area where fluoride levels are high.
Whether your water is fluoridated or naturally high in fluorides, fluoride can be filtered out.
But be aware that very few water filters reliably remove fluoride.
Some claim “fluoride reduction” as a feature but, in fact, remove negligible amounts.
If a filter does not specifically state that it removes fluoride, assume it doesn’t.
Do your homework before making the investment in a fluoride-reducing water filter.
Fluoride As a Neurotoxin: Take the Next Step
Fluoride is a toxic substance often added to toothpaste and water supplies with the intent of building healthy teeth.
However, fluoride is not necessary for healthy teeth and most countries do not add fluoride to their water supplies.
In fact, fluoride is a known neurotoxin that directly, and indirectly, affects the health and function of your brain.
Fortunately, it’s not all that difficult to avoid.
Use fluoride-free toothpaste and get a filter that removes fluoride from your drinking water.
To further safeguard your brain against neurotoxicity, consider taking supplements that are neuroprotective.
READ NEXT: How to Protect Your Brain From Neurotoxicity