Fluorine is pungent and corrosive. It belongs to the same group of elements as chlorine, bromine, and iodine. In the body, it is found in combination with other constituents of the body.
Fluorine requirement for our body is normally met through drinking water. There is a strong affinity between calcium and fluorine. These two elements work together, particularly in the outer parts of bones. They are found in the enamel of the teeth and the shiny and highly polished bone surfaces.
Ingested fluorides are completely ionized and rapidly absorbed, and distributed throughout the extra cellular fluid in a manner similar to chloride.
However the levels in the blood and tissues are so low that it has been difficult to make any reliable analysis. Fluoride is rapidly excreted in the urine, even by those suffering from severe kidney disease. The relationship of the urinary output of fluorine in comparison to the total intake is complicated and related to the state of the bones.
What Are The Sources Of Fluorine?
- Fluorine is found in Bengal gram, cereals – especially rice, some leafy vegetables, and most of all in dry tea leaves.
- Fluorine is found in small amounts in normal bones and teeth.
- Since water containing 1 to 2 parts per million(ppm) prevents dental caries and does not do any harm, the fluorine requirements of the body are met by the quantity normally present in drinking water in most regions.
Symptoms Of Fluorine Deficiency
Studies on dental caries in human beings have shown that the incidence in children is high in areas where the drinking water contains less than 0.5 ppm fluorine, and low in areas where the water contains 1 to 2 ppm fluorine.
It has further been shown that the addition of 1 ppm fluorine to drinking water significantly reduces the incidence of dental caries.
Deficiency of fluorine for a long period can also have its effect on bone leading osteoporosis.
Deficiency of fluorine can be prevented by sufficient intake of fresh vegetables, fish, fruits, tea, and dried meat.
Effects Of High Fluoride Levels In Water
- Signs and symptoms of dental fluorosis have been observed in several countries where the drinking water contains excessive amounts of fluorine, that is, from 3 to 5 ppm.
- In these cases, the enamel of the teeth loses its luster and chalky white patches are found irregularly over the surface of the teeth.
- In severe cases, there is a marked loss of enamel with the tooth surface acquiring a corroded appearance.
- Prolonged drinking of water containing excessive amounts of fluorine over 10 ppm can lead to fluorine intoxication.
- Workers handling fluoride-containing minerals can also suffer from this problem. This may result in pathological changes in the bones.
- There may be an increased density and hyper calcification of the bone of the spine, pelvis, and the limbs. The ligaments of the spine may also become calcified, producing a ‘poker back’.
- Neurological disturbances secondary to the changes in the vertebral column are common.