Fluoride: Too much of a good thing?

I’m not a fan of fluoride in our toothpaste and definitely believe it should not be in our water supply. When I take my sons to the dentist for cleanings, I skip the fluoride treatment. Their toothpaste is fluoride-free. Not one cavity for both of my boys! Their only source of fluoride is our drinking water. But that’s about to change since we just purchased a reverse osmosis water filtration system for our home.

Reverse osmosis is one of the only ways to filter out fluoride in your home tap water. EWG (Environmental Working Group) recommends drinking filtered tap water. This is primarily due to manufacturers of bottled water are not listing water sources or purification methods on their labels. More to the point, tap water is regulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) under stricter standards than the FDA’s (Food & Drug Administration) regulation of bottled water. The FDA sends inspectors to bottling plants every 2-3 years. In 2009, almost 50% of bottled water sources came from tap water. I know that if I’m going to drink tap water, I would want to know how it’s filtered and also use a reusable bottle made from stainless steel or BPA-free plastic than buy it in a non reusable, non BPA-free plastic bottle. I digress…back to fluoride and it’s dangers of over-consumption.

Everything in moderation…but not in America. According to FAN’s (Fluoride Action Network) website:

Most developed nations, including Japan and 97% of Western Europe do not fluoridate their water supply. However, comprehensive data from the World Health Organization reveals that there is no discernible difference in tooth decay between the minority of western nations that fluoridate water, and the majority that do not. In fact, the tooth decay rates in many non-fluoridated countries are now lower than the tooth decay rates in fluoridated ones.

 The most obvious reason to end fluoridation of our water supply is that it is now known that fluoride’s main benefit comes from topical contact with the teeth, not from ingestion. Even the CDC’s Oral Health Division now acknowledges this. There is simply no need, therefore, to swallow fluoride, whether in the water, toothpaste, or any other form.

Health Problems From Fluoride

There are many health concerns other than dental fluorosis (excess levels of fluoride causing tooth enamel to mottle and discolor, then decay).  Studies by The Lancet and National Research Council indicate that fluoride is a neurotoxin that interferes with the function of the brain and body and also reduces IQ levels, indicating that fluoride intake causes cognitive damage.

Fluoride also decreases thyroid function. Women are more susceptible to this and symptoms of low thyroid function are:

  • Lack of energy
  • Low body temperature
  • Dry skin
  • Not sweating well
  • Tendency towards constipation

Fluoride exposure disrupts the synthesis of collagen and leads to the breakdown of collagen in bone, tendon, muscle, skin, cartilage, lungs, kidney and trachea. It also confuses the immune system (that can’t be good!) and causes it to attack the body’s own tissues. It will increase the tumor growth rate in cancer prone individuals and promotes development of bone cancer. Fluorides accumulate in the brain over time to reach neurologically harmful levels. And of course, fluoride causes premature aging of the human body.*

How Much is Too Much?

In 2003, the National Research Council appointed one of the most balanced and objective panels of experts that has ever objectively investigated fluoride. They spent about three years studying it and determined that the current “safe” drinking water standard of 4 ppm (parts per million) set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for fluoride is too high and should be lowered. But in the four years since, the EPA has not completed a new health-risk assessment, and thus we still live with this outdated and unsafe standard, even though the NRC study was specifically requested by the EPA.

(Dr. Joseph Mercola; The Huffington Post http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/warning-this-daily-habit-_b_741635.html )

The contents of a family-size tube of fluoridated toothpaste is enough to kill a 25-pound child.  Even Proctor and Gamble, the makers of Crest, acknowledge that a family-sized tube “theoretically contains enough fluoride to kill a small child.”

So to answer my question, YES, we are getting too much fluoride and it’s NOT a good thing. Fluoride is toxic and you must have a prescription from a doctor to get it. But our municipal water suppliers are purchasing it and adding it to our water. Once it’s in the water, you can’t control the dose of any individual’s daily consumption. There is no oversight nor a doctor prescribing it for you and your family.

To learn more about your local water supply, log onto http://www.epa.gov/enviro/facts/sdwis/search.html .

Source * – http://www.robertgammal.com/PDFs/SciFactsFluoride.pdf

I Thought I Knew It All (well, most of it)

I’ve learned about most biomedical interventions for autism and really thought I was just going to “refresh and recharge” my batteries that fueled the science geek in me.  Where did I go, you ask?  The 2010 Autism Research Institute’s (ARI) Conference held in Long Beach, CA on October 8-10. That’s where doctors, research scientists and parents discuss the exploration and evaluation of scientifically documented biomedical interventions for individuals within the autism spectrum.

Well, of course no one person can possible know about every aspect of this medical research, but as a parent whose life has been engulfed by it, I thought I knew most of it.  Well, I don’t, and I find that exciting. We are still learning about autism and the sensitive biochemistry of our children that are triggered by various environmental assaults. Unfortunately, more research still needs to be done, more children will be hit by the “autism bus” and more parents will demand answers on why this is a growing epidemic.

I have said before on my blog that I believe autism is not solely a disorder of the brain, but one that affects the brain, the immune system, and the gut. Well, one of the leading autism research scientists is Dr. Jill James, PhD from Arkansas Children’s Hospital Research Institute, and she spoke at the conference on her research done on oxidative stress in autism.

Oxidative stress is a condition which occurs when the production of free radicals in the human body exceeds the body’s ability to neutralize and eliminate them. Oxidative stress can result from a lack of antioxidants (like vitamins A, E and C) or from an over abundance of free radicals. Free radicals can react with key components of cells including DNA, lipids, and protein, resulting in cellular damage.

Dr. James discussed  “The Autism Triad: Brain-Gut-Immune Axis” which are inter-dependent and their individual balance requires each other. All three systems are highly sensitive to oxidative stress, especially during critical developmental windows. A healthy brain needs to develop in a healthy immune system and gut. All three systems are immature at birth. Gene and environmental interactions affect the intracellular GSH/GSSG (ratio of reduced glutathione to oxidized glutathione) and the maturation of all three systems.  GSH/GSSG is the measure of cellular toxicity. Glutathione is our body’s primary antioxidant that protects red blood cells from damage and destruction by mopping up toxic free radicals. (side note: Did you know it is also needed for the action of insulin?)

A toxic inflammatory insult in one of these (brain, immune system, gut) can indirectly affect the development and function of the others. Wow! That says it all for me. In other words, if your infant or young child has inflammation in their immune system from a virus (acquired/immunization), the development of their brain and gut will be affected. Or perhaps your child had numerous ear infections and prescribed antibiotics. Their gut was affected by the reduction of good bacteria (wiped out by the antibiotics) vs. the bad bacteria that took over. This is an example of an inflammatory insult to the gut, which indirectly affects the development of the brain and immune system.

Oxidative stress may be a final common pathway for many structurally diverse environmental exposures such as heavy metals (lead, aluminum, arsenic, cadmium, mercury), solvents (alcohol, chlorine, benzene), and industrial chemicals (PCBs, pesticides, herbicides). All of these induce oxidative stress and deplete our body’s store of glutathione. Dr. James noted that a combined sub-toxic dose of these can reach a toxic threshold. Which means that our children can be exposed to these individual toxins at levels that are not considered toxic by our FDA/EPA, but the combined doses reach the toxic threshold.

This is exactly the point I continually try to make.  That our environment has a combination of toxic exposures that is affecting our current and future generation of children. It’s also affecting us as adults. It may not present itself as autism for us “grown ups”, but as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, etc.

Research in this area needs to continue and I am grateful for ARI, the doctors, scientists and parents that contribute their documented studies on biomedical interventions for autism.  Thanks to them, children are recovering and parents have hope. Perhaps our FDA and EPA could learn something from this community if they would just pay attention. I do know one thing. These agencies that are assigned to protect us certainly don’t (or choose not to) know it all.  And neither do I.

My Mother Made Me Take Cod Liver Oil And I Lived To Tell About It.

(third in a series of three Old Wives Tales)

“UGH! That’s nasty!”  Children of all generations have probably uttered those remarks after a teaspoon of cod liver oil. My mother made me and my siblings drink it. And it wasn’t flavored way back then. Nowadays you can get it lemon, strawberry or orange flavored. Still smells and tastes sorta bad. But boy oh boy, is it good for you!

I would have never dreamed that I’d be putting my kids through that horrid childhood rite of passage: taking cod liver oil. My mother swears it’s good for you; and as it turns out, it IS really good for you.  Thanks to the recommendation from my wonderful Defeat Autism Now doctor, Eric Sletten, MD., I am passing along this tradition to another generation of children that take cod liver oil. Why?

Oh, let me tell you all the wonderful benefits of cod liver oil. (no, taste is not one of them!)

  • Cod Live Oil is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Our brain’s neurons are comprised of 60-70% fat; so it needs the good fats, like Omega fatty acids, not trans fats.
  • Our bodies cannot produce Omega fatty acids, so we must get them through our diet and supplementation.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are utilized by our eyes, brain, heart, joints, digestive system and many other tissues and systems.
  • Cod liver oil is high in vitamins A and D. Vitamin A assists in bone and tooth formation, as well as nerve and eye functions. Vitamin D boosts our immune system as well as regulating our calcium and phosphorus levels to keep our bones healthy.
  • Omega-3 improves your ability to concentrate as well as your energy level.
  • Through it’s anti-inflammatory effects, cod liver oil is a promising treatment for arthritis sufferers.
  • The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oils keep platelets in the blood from sticking together, which reduces blood clotting and lowers the risk for heart attacks. They may also provide protection by reducing inflammation in the blood vessels.
  • Omega-3s help with mood disorders, such as depression.
  • When combined with the mineral selenium, cod liver oil may prevent middle ear infections in children. Research has shown that children with middle ear infections are deficient in three things: selenium, vitamin A and EPA, which is an anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acid.

Now you may not realize that cod liver oil is also available in soft gels. They are easy to swallow and the taste and smell is disguised by the citrus flavor in the gel cap.  There are many varieties of omega-3 supplements on the market today. For my family, we take one high in DHAs and EPAs.

DHA is a major structural component for our nerves and brains. It assists with brain and eye development, which is why it’s recommended during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.

I have to admit, my mother is pretty happy that I am heeding her advice. She may not have had the same reasons for giving me cod liver oil as I do for my sons, but the benefit is the same. After all these years, I am going to be passing along my mother’s “old wives tales” to my children and future generations. And happy to say, you too can take cod liver oil, and live to tell about.

Read the first in the series of “Old Wives Tales” here:  https://healingautismandadhd.wordpress.com/2010/06/08/epsom-salts-old-wives-tale-or-medical-fact/

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