Brominated Vegetable Oil…what you need to know, and why you should stay away!

Bromintated Vegetable OilThe other day while on my lunch I ran to the gas station to get a bottle of water and a KIND bar, and just as I had gotten back in my car, another woman walked out of the gas station carrying 3 diet Sun Drops. This had me thinking…I wonder if she really knows what she’s drinking? Most people don’t…they’re totally unaware (aside from the regular, “Sodas are bad for you” thing)…So, I figured it was time to go ahead and address this issue.

When patients come to see me, no matter what it is for, I give them a list of things I like for them to avoid on their food labels. And guess what?? Brominated Oil is one of the lucky ingredients on that list 😉 .

A few years ago this little ingredient started getting a little media attention…someone wrote one of the big beverage companies about the risks of prolonged consumption, and said beverage company actually reformulated their drink…and it’s no longer in that beverage…the drink? Powerade. You’re probably wondering, so what is Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) and what other drinks is it in?

Well, as you probably guessed from the picture up at the top, BVO is found in: Mountain Dew, Mello Yello, Sundrop, Squirt (Multiple flavors offered contain it), Fresca, and Fanta (Multiple flavors in this one too). Another major drink that contains this ingredient is Gatorade. Now not ALL flavors of all of these drinks contain this ingredient, but you can pretty much guarantee it’s in anything that is a citrus flavored drink.

So what exactly is this stuff? And why should you avoid it?? Brominated Vegetable Oil is vegetable oil that has been brominated…helpful right 😉 lol. Well what does this mean? Bromine is an element on the periodic table. When bound to the oil (derived from corn or soy) it acts as an emulsifier to prevent the citrus from separating and floating to the surface (since citrus is very oily, it is known to separate). The FDA allows 15 parts per million of BVO in citrus drinks, and they used to consider it GRAS (generally recognized as safe), but it has been moved to “interim” status in the last 30 years because it has been known to cause issues and illness in people.

Dr. Mercola’s website says:

“Bromines are common endocrine disruptors, and are part of the halide family, a group of elements that includes flourine, chlorine and iodine. What makes it so dangerous it that is competes for the same receptors that are used to capture iodine. If you are exposed to a lot of bromine, your body will not hold on to the iodine that it needs. And iodine affects every tissue in your body, not just your thyroid.”

So what else do they use bromine for? They use it in pesticides, plastics (like those found in computers), flame retardants (at least your Mountain Dew isn’t flammable…yikes!), some hot tube and pool chemicals, as well as some anesthesia agents. Another fun little fact about bromine…it was given to Jewish prisoners in concentration camps because it made the prisoners lethargic and forgetful…they were forced to consume this stuff to keep them subdued, and now we willingly consume it?! Um…okay.

In addition to “dumbing us down” it can build up in the body and cause toxic effects. “In 1997, doctors were stumped by the case of a man who came to the emergency room with headaches, fatigue, and a loss of muscle coordination and memory. He continued to get worse over times, and eventually he lost the ability to walk. A blood test found sky-high levels of bromide. The source? The man had been drinking between 2 and 4 liters of soda containing brominated vegetable oil every day. He needed dialysis but eventually recovered.” There have been other cases where it has cause oozing sores, swollen hands, and halogen acne.

Now, back to the whole issue of displacing iodine…as mentioned above bromine competes for the same receptors as iodine, and typically wins out. Most people know that iodine is crucial to thyroid function and health, but what most don’t realize is how many other systems are effected by deficiencies. Iodine deficiency can lead to an increased risk for breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, and thyroid cancer…some of the most commonly found cancers today!

In addition to accumulating in your tissues it can cause issues with your central nervous system, build up in breast milk, and has been shown in some studies to affect fertility. When it effects the central nervous system is can act as a depressant and in extreme cases can cause acute paranoia as well as other psychotic symptoms. Bromine toxicity can cause skin rashes, severe acne, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, fatigue, metallic taste, and cardiac arrhythmias.

All of this sounds like fun doesn’t it? 😉 So, how about that Mountain Dew or Sundrop??? Having one once in a blue moon isn’t a big deal…but knowing all of this should definitely make you want to stay away.

Now this woman I saw the other day wasn’t just carrying Sundrop…she was carrying DIET Sundrop…that’s like a double punch of nastiness! If someone told me they were going to drink one of these citrus sodas, and they told me they were going to have diet…I would tell them to go for the real stuff…you’re still putting nasty toxins in your system, but there will actually be less of them. I could go on for days on sugar alternatives…but I’ll save that for the next one 🙂 

For more information you can check out Dr. Mercola’s article here

Or check out WebMD’s article here

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