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Tracking Fluoride in the National Food Supply

By Rosalie Marion Bliss
November 9, 2004

The Agricultural Research Service has launched a database that lists the level of fluoride in 400 separate food and beverage items. The list will be important to researchers who strive to estimate the amount of fluoride that individuals consume daily.

For more than half a century, to prevent tooth decay, small amounts of fluoride have been added to many U.S. municipal water supplies. That fluoride, as well as naturally occurring fluoride from wells and other water sources, subsequently finds its way into water-based beverages and foods.

An Adequate Intake level has been set for fluoride at 3 milligrams (mgs) daily for women and 4 mgs daily for men. But until now, scant data existed on the quantity of fluoride in the national food supply.

The USDA National Fluoride Database of Selected Beverages and Foods was posted last month on the World Wide Web. The project was coordinated by nutritionist Rena Cutrufelli with the ARS Nutrient Data Laboratory, which is part of the agency's Beltsville (Md.) Human Nutrition Research Center.

The project is part of an interagency agreement between the ARS Beltsville laboratory, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, both in Bethesda, Md.

The new compilation is based on acceptable data extracted from reviews of existing scientific literature, as well as on data analyzed by scientists at the University of Iowa College of Dentistry, in Iowa City.

The data is also part of a food-and-beverage intake survey tool now being developed by researchers at the University of Minnesota Nutrition Coordinating Center (NCC). That tool will be used to assess the amount of fluoride individuals consume from dietary and nondietary sources, including fluoride supplements and toothpastes.

To access the new database on the Internet, go to:


Read more about this research in the November issue of Agricultural Research magazine.

ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.