Flouride in green tea

This Week In The HSI Forum

Is there something toxic in your green tea?

That’s a concern of an HSI member named Nancy who started off a new Forum thread titled “Green Tea” with some information she found on a web site that stated: “Tea is very high in fluoride content. Fluoride in tea is much higher than the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) set for fluoride in drinking water.” Another site confirmed that information, adding that the typical cup of tea exceeds one milligram of fluoride, which is well over the recommended amount for fluoridated drinking water.

I can understand Nancy’s concern. In several e-Alerts I’ve told you about the dangers of fluoridation of public water (see “The Art of Subtraction” 11/13/03). And while it’s true that tea does contain fluoride, Nancy also found a site that offered this less alarming view: “Fluorine and its compounds in food are entirely different from chemically produced sodium fluoride. Once an element is extracted from the soil and incorporated into plant life, its properties change greatly.”

But rather than being reassured, Nancy says, “I’m so totally confused and would appreciate ANY feedback.”

Among the comments that follow is this one from a member named Owen: “I may be wrong, but I’d advise you to go back to drinking green tea. Yes, it contains fluoride, but so does mother’s milk. Lots and lots of plants contain NATURALLY-OCCURRING fluorine or fluoride compounds. The problem is the hideous version of fluoride that is added to drinking water in so many parts of the world. It is NOT a natural compound.”

And a member named Roz adds: “Personally I think you might wish to trust your second article/website concerning the green tea and fluoride. That is, tap water IS the bad one, so make your tea w/pure water.”

Roz’ point is a good one. The fluoride – or fluorine – that occurs naturally in tea and other foods is volatile enough that most of it evaporates in the cooking process. The synthetic sodium fluoride that’s added to water, however remains stable when heated. So the sodium fluoride in your cup of tea is a much greater concern that the natural fluoride.

The possible exception would be for those with thyroid problems. Excessive fluoride intake may trigger hyperthyroidism, so anyone who has been diagnosed with this disorder should consult with their doctor or an ND (doctor of naturopathic medicine) who’s knowledgeable about nutrition.

A side discussion developed in this thread about soliciting and receiving responses from HSI. Roz made this suggestion: “There should be a place near the bottom of your HSI alerts, that gives a place to ask them a question.”

Actually, there already is an easy way to respond to any e- Alert you receive. Just click on the “Reply” button, write a message and send it. I can promise you that every message we receive is read. We can’t respond in detail to each message, of course, but as many members know, quite a few responses are addressed in follow up e-Alerts. So please, keep those responses coming.

Other topics on the HSI Forum this week include:

  • Diabetics, some guidance please
  • Calcium requirements
  • Chemo
  • Shingles pain
  • Raw sprouts healthy or toxic?
  • Vitamin E

To reach the HSI Forum, just go to our web site at www.hsionline.com, click on “Forum,” and add your voice to the wide range of topics concerning health care and nutrition.