Effects of Fluoride on Kidney Patients

Those with decreased kidney function are often encouraged to drink more water. What they are typically not told is that the type of water they are drinking is extremely important. Fluoride in drinking water is an especially big problem for kidney patients-here’s what you need to know.

Your Kidneys: A Natural Filter against Fluoride

Your kidneys act as a filter against many harmful substances, one of which is fluoride. However, your kidneys are also exposed to greater concentrations of fluoride than any other organ or soft tissue in your body. According to the Fluoride Action Network, excess fluoride exposure might contribute to the onset of kidney disease. They base this statement on research performed on humans and animals, which shows that fluoride can have a detrimental effect on kidney function.

Fluoride and Kidney Damage:  A Vicious Cycle

While evidence suggests there is a connection between fluoride consumption and kidney disease, the problem may only be compounded once damage occurs. That’s because those with decreased kidney function may be unable to process even low levels of fluoride such as what is found in drinking water. As a result, fluoride may accumulate in the bones and lead to a condition known as skeletal fluorosis, a disorder that often mimics other bone ailments. Some common signs of skeletal fluorosis include:

  • Bone and joint pain
  • Stiffness in the joints
  • Gastric distress

In more severe cases, skeletal fluorosis may result in a hunched back or more serious problems with posture. We often recommend those who are at a higher-than-average risk for bone disorders have further testing to determine whether or not they are holding too much fluoride in their bodies.

Even Small Amounts are Harmful

Most water supplies contain a concentration of around 1 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride. Although this amount is generally considered safe, kidney patients may nonetheless suffer ill effects even at this low dosage. Properly functioning kidneys can eliminate approximately half the fluoride that’s consumed, meaning that those with renal disorders should drastically limit their intake. Whenever possible, patients should:

  • Filter their water using reverse osmosis or a deionizer. Avoid using activated carbon filters, which remove other harmful chemicals but do nothing to eliminate fluoride.
  • Limit the use of dental products that contain fluoride.
  • Avoid having fluoride treatments performed by a dental professional.
  • Purchase only bottled spring water-just be sure to check with the manufacturer to ensure no fluoride is added during the bottling process. Ideally, bottled water should contain no more than 0.1 ppm.
  • Avoid consuming bottled drinks, as they could be made using fluoridated water.
  • Learn whether or not any medications they are taking contain a “carbon-fluorine bond”, which can lead to a buildup of fluoride in the body. Once common medication is Cipro, an antibiotic often prescribed for bacterial infections.

Some people are naturally more susceptible to the effects of fluoride than others. If you have a family history of kidney disease or are already seeking treatment for a renal disorder, monitoring the levels in your drinking water could be in order.