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This post was prompted by an article in the N.Y. Times that discusses the brominated vegetable oils as an additive in Gatorade (Yecch!).

To keep the post on-topic, let me mention that I don't have any PEP or KO stock because I can't eat a single product made by either of these companies (other than bottled water, which I object to due to environmental litter).

On Bromine and Iodine in the Diet

Iodine, a non-metallic trace element, is required by humans for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Iodine deficiency is now accepted as the most common cause of preventable brain damage in the world.

Iodine, bromine and chlorine are all in the same chemical “family” (column in the periodic table). This family is called “halogen.”

Iodized salt has been proven to supply the body’s need for iodide. Most of the earth's iodine is found in oceans. Fish, seafood and seaweed contain iodide. Vegetarian and nonvegetarian diets that exclude iodized salt, fish, and seaweed contain very little iodine.

Because bromine is in the same chemical “family” as iodine, bromide can interfere with iodide in the thyroid, especially if iodide consumption is low. Bromide is a chemical that is added artificially to the diet. Brominated hydrocarbons (e.g. methyl bromide) are used in agriculture for pre-planting fumigation of soils and post-harvest fumigation of commodities as grains, spices, nuts, fruits and tobacco; as well as of other bromine compounds (e.g. ethylene dibromide) applied on a large scale in industry. Believe it or not, brominated vegetable oil is a food additive in soft drinks such as Gatorade (legal in the U.S., illegal in Europe and Japan).

Eating more chloride (either sodium chloride (regular table salt) or potassium chloride) can help flush out excess bromide. The bromide will stay in your body longer if you eat a low-salt diet. Healthy adults can safely eat 2,300 mg (about 1 teaspoon) of salt per day, but people with high blood pressure have to eat a low-salt diet.

With iodine deficiency, iodine atoms in the thyroid are replaced by bromine atoms. If you eat enough iodide in your diet, the bromide will be mostly excluded from the thyroid and do little harm.

I used to cook a low-salt diet, but now I use Lite Salt, which is a combination of sodium chloride and potassium chloride. (The potassium got rid of Rod’s severe leg cramps.) I get iodide in my multivitamin and also by eating fish (Alaska wild pink salmon, not farmed salmon, and also sardines and herring).

Bottom line: The problems from bromine only show up when iodine is deficient. Eat Lite Salt so you can get chloride that will flush out bromide without getting excess sodium. Get iodide from ocean foods, iodized salt (if blood pressure isn’t a concern) and/ or from vitamins. Iodine deficiency is definitely bad, especially when bromine is around. And don’t consume anything that contains brominated vegetable oil!

Wendy (see references below)
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