Skip to content

Food & Recipes

Font Size

Harmful Fluoride Levels Found in Instant Tea

Instant Iced Tea Mixes May Contain Excessively High Fluoride Levels

WebMD Health News

Jan. 25, 2005 -- Instant iced tea mixes may contain potentially harmful levels of fluoride, according to a new study.

Researchers found some commercial iced tea mixes contain up to 6.5 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride, which is well above the 4 ppm maximum allowed by the EPA in drinking water and 2.4 ppm permitted by the FDA in bottled water and beverages.

The results indicate constantly quenching your thirst with instant iced teas may increase your risk of a rare, but potentially dangerous bone disorder caused by getting too much fluoride in your system.

When fluoride levels are too high, it causes bone-forming cells to produce more skeletal tissue, which increases bone density but also bone brittleness. The condition leads to a disease called skeletal fluorosis and may result in bone pain, stiffening of ligaments, bone spurs, fused vertebrae, and difficulty in moving joints.

"When fluoride gets into your bones, it stays there for years, and there is no established treatment for skeletal fluorosis," says researcher Michael Whyte, MD, professor of medicine, pediatrics, and genetics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, in a news release. "No one knows if you can fully recover from it."

"The tea plant is known to accumulate fluoride from the soil and water. Our study points to the need for further investigation of the fluoride content of teas," says Whyte. "We don't know how much variation there is from brand to brand and year to year."

Iced Teas May Have Too Much Fluoride

Researchers analyzed the fluoride content of commercial instant tea mixes after diagnosing a middle-aged woman with spinal pain caused by extremely dense bones. Tests showed that the woman had high levels of fluoride in her urine.

The woman said she drank 1 to 2 gallons of double-strength instant tea throughout the day, which prompted researchers to test for fluoride content in several brands of instant iced tea mixes available in grocery stores.

They sent 10 samples of iced tea mixes to two different independent laboratories in St. Louis for testing. The teas were prepared on two separate occasions using distilled water.

Today on WebMD

Four spoons with mustards
What condiments are made of and how much to use.
salmon and spinach
How to get what you need.
grilled veggies
Easy ideas for dinner tonight.
Greek Salad
Health benefits, what you can eat and more.

WebMD Recipe Finder

Browse our collection of healthy, delicious recipes, from WebMD and Eating Well magazine.

roasted chicken
grilled steak

Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

vegetarian sandwich
vegan soup
Foods To Boost Mens Heath Slideshow