Fluoride Action Network

Top 5 Ways to Reduce Fluoride Exposure from Infant Formula

Fluoride Action Network | August 2012

The single best way to protect a baby from fluoride exposure is to breast feed. Breast milk contains very low levels of fluoride (4 parts per billion), and, as a result, breast-fed infants receive the lowest fluoride exposures in the entire population.  Since breast feeding is not always a feasible option, the following are five tips on how to use infant formula in a way that reduces your baby’s fluoride burden.

1) Do NOT Use Fluoridated Water to Prepare Formula

If you need to use formula, the single most important thing you can do to reduce your child’s fluoride burden is to use non-fluoridated water. Fluoridated water, which contains 700 to 1200 parts per billion (ppb) of fluoride, is by far the largest contributor to fluoride intake among babies receiving formula. Make sure, therefore, that you use a water source that is low in fluoride. We recommend a fluoride level below 100 ppb (which is the equivalent of 0.1 parts per million, ppm).

2) Use a Formula Made from Cow Milk

As with human breast milk, fresh cow’s milk contains low levels of fluoride (less than 70 ppb). While these levels are increased when cow’s milk is processed into powdered or liquid-concentrate formula, they are generally lower than the fluoride levels found in soy-based formulas. Milk-based formulas are therefore preferable to soy-based formulas.

3) Avoid Liquid-Concentrate Soy Formulas

Among soy formulas, liquid concentrate formulas have the highest levels of fluoride. So, if you need to use a soy formula, it is generally best to use a powdered formula. This rule does not apply, however, if you have to use fluoridated tap water to reconstitute the formula. If you have no choice but to use fluoridated tap water, then liquid concentrate is better than the powdered variety because the concentrate requires less water to be added.

4) If Using Bottled Water, Make Sure It Has Low Fluoride

If you decide to prepare your child’s formula with bottled water, make sure that the bottled water contains low levels of fluoride. Fortunately, most bottled water contains very little fluoride, so it is not difficult to find a brand that is safe. There are, however, some exceptions to this rule. Some bottled waters (e.g., “Dannon Fluoride to Go” and “Nursery Water”) actually add fluoride to the water, while some bottled waters (e.g., “Trinity Springs”) get their water from deep in the ground, which can have high levels of naturally occurring fluoride. To see the fluoride levels in popular brands sold in the United States, click here. If the brand you are looking for is not on this list, make sure to call the company and ask them for the level. We recommend that you select a brand that has less than 100 ppb (which is the equivalent of 0.1 parts per million, ppm).

5) If Using a Water Filter, Make Sure It Removes Fluoride

Most popular water filters do NOT remove fluoride. This includes Brita and Pur filters (these filters use “activated carbon” technology, which does not remove fluoride). The only water filters that remove fluoride are those that use “reverse osmosis,” “activated alumina,” or deionization (using an ion exchange resin). If you are using a water filter, therefore, make sure it uses one of these technologies, and make sure to properly maintain the filter to ensure its efficacy.

Fluoride Levels in Milk & Soy Formulas:

When looking at the data in the following table, it is important to keep in mind that these are the fluoride levels in the formula itself. They do not include the fluoride that would be added when reconstituting the formula with water. Fluoridated drinking water contains 700 to 1,200 ppb. Thus, if the formulas are prepared with fluoridated water, the concentration of the formula will be greatly increased. (Zohoori 2011) We recommend that you use a water containing less than 100 ppb fluoride to prepare the formula.

Fluoride Levels in Infant Formulas*
Formula Type Van Winkle
Ready to Use
170 ppb
(40 to 555 ppb)
150 ppb
(80 to 230 ppb)
Liquid Concentrate
120 ppb
(40 to 190 ppb)
270 ppb
(70 to 480 ppb)
140 ppb
(50 to 280 ppb)
120 ppb
(30 to 270 ppb)
Ready to Use
300 ppb
(170 to 380 ppb)
210 ppb
(130 to 320 ppb)
Liquid Concentrate
240 ppb
(40 to 470 ppb)
500 ppb
(410 to 570 ppb)
240 ppb
(190 to 280 ppb)
160 ppb
(60 to 290 ppb)
* Prepared or reconstituted with low-fluoride water (<20 ppb fluoride).


See also: