I just had a nice relapse of my shitty ulcer (after 2 years, gah), which means no spices, even less coffee and low protein for at least a week, to make my small intestine happy and keep my pancreas from doing anything I will regret. Meh. Potatoes, oats and bananas to the rescue!
Anyway, I had a tough choice to make today...Folate or Fluor? Since both are the things people just looove to fight about, even here in goods own country (NZ), I decided to do both.
F is for: Fluor
Fluor is a chemical element, and it is always bound, which makes it a mineral. In our bodies, 95% are in our bones and teeth, where it is responsible for the stability. Fluoride in water is taken up to 100%, and is found nearly immediately in our saliva. This also means that it circles via blood, and 90% is kicked out via pee. But some of it also ends up in the gut and in our sweat.
It is still discussed if fluoride is essential or not. What scientists do know is that a lack of fluoride makes for weaker bones, bad teeth, and if pregnant people and babies have a lack of fluoride, the fetus does not grow as it should, during both pregnancy and up to 12 months after birth.
Fluor is barely found in food, because the soil is simply low in fluoride. The only food you actually get most of it is black tea: for your RDI, the small amount of 2 kgs of black tea a day should get you covered (Hint: sarcasm). Seriously, the RDI in Germany (sorry, the only one I remember) is about 3.1-3.8 mg per day for an adult. The normal intake without fluoridated salt and water is only around 0.1-0.5 mg per day. Which is why in Germany, fluoride is added to the water and to salt.
The therapeutic window of fluoride is pretty small, so nobody recommends additional supplements, unless a toddler fed totally salt less (breastmilk only), then a small dose should be given (0.2 mg). As soon as the baby will drink water or formula with water, parents should check on how much fluoride is added in their community, just to be on the safe side, since chronic exposure from abnormally high content in ground water can be bad.
The side effect of too much fluoride is dental fluorosis, which is mostly of cosmetic nature. The most feared toxic side effect, the skeleton fluorosis, is very, very rare, since an intake of >10 mg a day for years is necessary. However, sometimes shit happens, and when toddlers eat high fluoride toothpaste, drink lots of fluoridated water AND gets supplements...you get my meaning. In adults the toxic dose is 5-10 g, which is really high, and you get stomach problems way before that. Every other claim of things that you apparently can get from fluoride exposure are not scientifically proven or observed under controlled circumstances. I have read a few lists, and they coincide with the bad things you apparently get from mercury poisoning, not detoxing, milk consumption, phosphates and sulfates, bad sugar, low Vitamin B status AND Obama. But these are also not proven...*shrugs*. But what do I know, I am just someone who studied these things and I am in the pocket of big pharma anyway. I just wish they would finally pay me. One thing I do know is that in the US, nothing is really regulated, measured or regularly tested for safe consumption. In Germany, everything is strictly regulated and controlled, and it is very easy to find out how much fluoride is in your water, or iodide, or even the amount of oral contraceptive in ground water. One call to your local water provider is usually all it takes. Regulation is not that bad, it can protect, people.
F is for: Folate
Folate, folic acid, also called vitamin B9, is mostly found in green leafy vegetables (folium = leaf). Chemically speaking, it is a glutamate with a pteridin glued on it. Sometimes, there are more than just one glutamate on it (polyglutamate). It is taken up in the gut and transported straight into the liver. The liver likes to add it to bile (10 times higher than in the blood), which will be added into the gut, where it is taken up again, and again.
The main function of folic acid (as tetra-hydro-folic acid) is being a co-enzyme. Its job is transferring small bits (hydroxymethyl groups) onto other important chemical compounds in the body, for example onto DNA.
Because of the necessity of folic acid during DNA synthesis, it is very important during pregnancy. A pregnant person needs the double amount of folic acid than a non-pregnant person. Often, young woman have a low folic acid intake...and while they might not plan on getting pregnant, it still happens. And since in those cases they often do not know that they are pregnant for a month or two...the lack of folic acid is able to cause severe problems already during those first few months. Spontaneous abortions, neural defects, other birth defects...In Germany, it is recommended to choose salt with added folate if you have women in their fertile years in your family. I buy it when I am over there, because i sometimes forget to eat enough green veggies, since husband hates broccoli, chard, and cabbages.
Another thing that can happen with lack of folate is megaloblastic anemia, because vitamin B12 and folic acid work hand in hand during the production of red blood cells. Another interesting bit is that folate is also important to prevent atherosclerosis, because B6, B12 and folate are needed to get rid of an amino acid called homocysteine, which can damage arterial walls.
No worry about getting too much folate, the body will just stop taking it up again if there is too much around.
Summary: Folate and fluor are not that bad, as long as there are regulations and guidelines that allow you, the people, to make an informed choice. Panic is a big business, because uninformed people in fear and desperation are easier to steer and manipulate. And as long as you eat a balanced diet, there is barely any need for supplements.