People who opt for cheaper supermarket blends of tea could be at a higher risk of bone and teeth problems, researchers, including an Indian origin scientist, have claimed.
Black tea and the world’s most consumed beverage may contain higher concentrations of fluoride according to researchers at Medical College of Georgia.
There could be a problem with heavy tea drinkers since long-term ingestion of excessive amounts of fluoride can cause bone problems.
Fluoride is a mineral that is needed for healthy teeth and bones, although excess fluoride can lead to a condition called fluorosis. Fluorosis causes discoloration of the teeth, and bone pain and stiffness.
The study found that economy ‘own-brand’ supermarket tea contains, on average, higher levels of fluoride than more expensive brands.
The researchers calculate that an adult regularly consuming one litre (just under two pints) of economy tea daily could be consuming more fluoride than is recommended by US experts. This could be bad for health.
However, fluorosis, which can damage bones and teeth, usually only occurs in countries where there are high natural levels of fluoride in drinking water.
The researchers bought 35 teas from UK supermarkets and a further two from India and one from Sri Lanka.
Depending on their origin and method of processing, the teas were classified as black blends, green blends, pure blends, oolong and economy blends.
Economy blends were black blended teas, labelled as essential economy brands by UK supermarket chains.
In the laboratory, they used a method called ion chromatography to analyse the fluoride concentrations in dry tea products.
They then measured the fluoride levels in typical infusions of each tea, adding 100ml of boiling water to each 2g sample.
These were analysed at two, 10 and 30 minutes for fluoride levels using sensors called ion selective electrodes. These can detect the presence of trace elements such as fluoride in a liquid.
The researchers point out that US experts recommend 4mg of fluoride daily for adults, with an “upper tolerable intake” of 10mg daily.
This study suggests that people drinking economy brands of tea may be exposed to high levels of fluoride, which can cause dental and bone problems.
The researchers calculate that people drinking 1 litre of cheap tea a day may be consuming more fluoride than the daily recommended amount, as advised by US experts.