Your soda is spiked! No, seriously! It is spiked with bromine. That’s probably not what you were thinking when I said “spiked”. While it doesn’t seem as dangerous, bromine is actually a huge problem for your thyroid. However, bromine isn’t only found in soda. It is in citrus-flavored drinks ranging from Gatorade to Mountain Dew. The substance is also found in various baked goods such as cookies, cakes, and bread. So if you are drinking or eating any of these, you are at risk.
Okay, let’s start off by figuring out exactly what bromine is. Bromine is a chemical element with an atomic number of 35 and is classified as a halogen. It is in the same group as chlorine, iodine, and fluorine. Bromine in liquid form is red-brown in color and very foul-smelling. In this form, as well as vapor form, it is harmful to the skin, eyes, and throat, and can be toxic. In nature it combines with other substances to form different crystalline mineral halide salts.
Although bromine is in the products we eat and drink, it can be very harmful to the thyroid gland. Bromine can actually obstruct the production of the thyroid hormones. The thyroid gland relies on iodine to produce thyroid hormones. Those hormones are necessary for your metabolism as well as to regulate body temperature and other essential bodily functions. The iodine that the thyroid requires is acquired through the foods we eat. However, because bromine is so similar to iodine the thyroid can mistake it as such and the bromine will take the place of iodine. This leads to an iodine deficiency which makes it hard, if not impossible, for the thyroid to function properly. That could lead to hypothyroidism. If that wasn’t bad enough, bromine may also accelerate the elimination of iodine from the body, again leaving the thyroid in an iodine deficient state.
The thyroid isn’t the only thing that bromine effects. The iodine deficiency caused by bromine can increase your risk for various cancers including breast, ovarian, and prostate. There is also the risk of bromine build up. This build up can take place in the nervous system which can lead to numerous psychological symptoms; the most common symptom being acute paranoia.
Now that you know why you should stay away from it, let’s look at what we should stay away from. As stated earlier, bromine is in a variety of foods and drinks. Many types of bread contain potassium bromate. The claim behind this ingredient is that it makes the dough able to stand up to bread hooks. However, you can find bread that doesn’t contain this ingredient. Pepperidge Farm, along with others, uses unbromated flour in their products. Bromine is also found in bottled drinks particularly of the citrus variety. The ingredient is listed as brominated vegetable oil or BVO.
It’s not just our food that we need to be concerned about. Bromine has also found its way into some toothpastes and mouthwashes. There it is added as an astringent and antiseptic. What about the thing you’re sitting on? Yes, it is in upholstery, carpets, and mattresses as a fire retardant. And if you are enjoying that swimming pool in the backyard, be warned that bromine is used as an alternative to chlorine in pool treatments.
Bromine is in more places than we realize. This should cause us to be even more cautious when grocery shopping and actually read the ingredients on the back label. As always we encourage you to do your own research to find what other products might contain bromine and what alternatives there are. If you find any great alternative options, please share them with us.