Fluorine is a toxic mineral that is known by its chemical element abbreviation of F and its atomic number of 9.
It is one of the most reactive elements in existence and typically pairs with noble gases to create chemical compounds.
As a food additive, however, it is known to offer numerous health benefits.
It was first discovered in 1529 by Georgius Agricola, who noted that it came in handy for smelting. It is an important mineral to have in one's daily diet because it contributes to strong bones and teeth and also prevents curvature of the spine. Healthy adults should consume at least 3 mg of the mineral per day.
Because fluorine plays a central role in the maintenance of people's bones and teeth, individuals who do not consume enough of this mineral are at risk of developing brittle bones, cavities, and osteoporosis.
Most cities in the U.S. now fluoridate their water supplies to ensure that people get enough fluorine in their diets.
People who are found to be fluorine deficient may be prescribed vitamin supplements and need to undergo frequent blood testing to ensure that their mineral levels are restored. Adults more so than children tend to be at higher risk of becoming fluorine deficient.
Alternatively, it is possible to consume too much of this mineral.
People who have too much fluorine in their diets can develop flaky, chalky teeth, as well as fluorosis of the spine.
Likewise, as with fluorine deficiency, toxic levels of this mineral can also cause brittle bones and teeth.
To avoid consuming too much of the mineral, people are warned to spit out their toothpaste rather than swallow it. Likewise, they are told not to consume too much of their city's fluoridated water supply, but rather drink no more than 32 ounces per day.