Tuesday, February 27, 2007

How Do We Know What's Healthy for Our Children?

I received an interesting comment on my last post about taking care of your children’s teeth. It was from the New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation, Inc. (NYSCOF), saying that fluoride is not necessary for our teeth. I found this interesting because I’d never heard this before. I had been cautioned that too much fluoride can be harmful, but I had never heard that it is not necessary at all, nor that fluoride can be found in some foods and drinks. So, who do we believe? Do we believe government and other agencies, most dentists and toothpaste manufacturers who say that fluoride is essential for fighting tooth decay? Or do we believe organizations like the NYSCOF and others who disagree?

The truth is, as a parent, it’s very hard to know! I’m sure there are studies supporting both viewpoints. I run into this “who to believe” problem all the time. First, I read a study saying that artificial sweeteners are good for you because they’re lower in calories and not as fattening. Then, I read another that says they’re harmful or dangerous. The same goes for food dyes. I saw an article recently cautioning against too much soy, whereas a few years ago, soy was being added to everything and touted as a wonder food! When I was a kid, we were always told to drink our juice. Now, I read articles that tell me not to give too much juice to my children. I’ve read the same thing about milk. Unfortunately, there are always going to be conflicting studies supporting the pros and cons of anything we put into our bodies—and our children’s.

What’s the solution? Do your research. Be open to all points of view. Check out both sides of an issue and then decide for yourself. I have found in most cases that moderation is the key. Anything in large quantities is not going to be healthy. Know your own children. Perhaps they are sensitive to certain ingredients that may not affect other children. One of my children has several large white spots on his teeth. I’ve read that this can be from ingesting too much fluoride. But when I asked the dentist, he said, “No, the spots are probably just a natural deformity in the teeth.” Do I believe him? I really don’t know. But I do know that I have enough concerns to make sure that my children don’t go overboard on the fluoride. I won’t be cutting it out entirely, but I’ll be making sure they’re not getting “too much” either…if only I could figure out what “too much” is!

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