Bromine: A Bully In the Endocrine Olympics

Bromine - Periodic Table

Bromine – Periodic Table
Image: 123rf

Did you know that everyday you have all sorts of little receptors in your body engaged in an Olympic-level competition?  Of course we aren’t really aware of it unless it starts to show symptoms.  Once we have symptoms we go to the doctor for treatment.  Here’s the thing that bothers me – even with appropriate medical treatment if we don’t reduce the competition going on in our own bodies then maybe we still aren’t addressing our health in the most optimal way.   And then there’s this:  how the heck are you supposed to know about this stuff if no one shares this information?!  You aren’t going to get it from your doctor.  And from your pharmacist? No.  From your government whom you entrust to protect you from these chemicals?  Well partly/maybe – but that depends upon where in this amazing world you live.

So by now you know how adamant I am about those damn Xenoestrogens competing with our estrogen receptors?  And I’ve also told you how too much estrogen and xenoestrogens means that your thyroid hormones have to compete for their own receptors.

Today I’m going to tell you about another competition to be aware about for the best hormone health:

Bromine VS Iodine

Bromine is an endocrine disruptor & competes with Iodine receptors used by your thyroid

So why does that matter to you?  Here’s the trouble, your thyroid requires iodine in order to produce thyroid hormone and it needs to pull it out of your bloodstream to get it.   In fact, you may have heard of T4 and T3 but did you know what those numbers stand for?  T4 refers to thyroxine which has 4 iodine atoms. T3 refers to triiodothyronine which has 3 iodine atoms.  T4 has to convert to T3 by getting rid of one iodine atom.  Long story short – it’s the T3 that makes it’s way into your cells to affect your entire metabolism!  Every single metabolic process is affected by your thyroid hormone. And that thyroid gland is responsible for activating over 100 cellular enzymes which, in turn, are responsible for a variety of different functions in every single cell in your body.

Now imagine if you are iodine deficient – what would happen to your T4 and T3 levels?  It should be clear to you that they absolutely need iodine.   And I shouldn’t forget to tell you that your ovaries need iodine too (a story for another day)!

Now enter Bromine, which bullies it’s way onto iodine receptors and can leave your thyroid trying to function without optimal levels of iodine.

Never heard of Bromine?  Well it is virtually EVERYWHERE in our environment:

  • It’s in your kids fire-retardant pj’s
  • It’s on your strawberries – Gee no wonder they are on the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen Fruits & Vegetables List?
  •  It’s in your commercially baked bread especially if you live in the USA (except maybe California where they would have to label your bread as carcinogenic which prompted most commercial bakeries to stop making brominated bread).  King Arthurs Flour actually educates professional bakers about how to make non-brominated bread right on their website – love that! If you live in the UK or Canada adding Bromine to food has been banned.
  • Its in certain sugary, citrusy or sports drinks and some sodas in the form of Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO) – even the name sounds disgusting doesn’t it?
  • Some cosmetics, hair dyes, perms (Oh dear, please don’t let that 80’s trend come back into style for a whole lot of reasons).  Look for words like Sodium Bromate and Benzalkonium.
  • Mattresses & carpets & automobile upholstery
  • Hot Tub and Swimming Pool Treatments
  • Some prescribed and over-the-counter medications

While you may not be able to live completely Bromine free – there are ways to minimize your exposure & avoid coming into contact with bromine when you can.  Dr. Mercola’s article on Bromine has some interesting information about the effect bromine has on your thyroid.

Here’s an article from the Journal of Clinical Pathology about the effects of Bromine on Thyroid Activity.  The study found an association between high bromine concentrations in patients with high TSH but normal Free T4 levels.  The evidence suggests an association between bromine and thyroid hormone disorder in some patients.

If you want to read about rat studies this study of rat thyroids showed as long as rats had sufficient iodine, increased bromine wasn’t a factor in the rat thyroid function.  Where the problem began was when the rat already had an iodine deficiency then the bromine atoms were taken up by the thyroid.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

If you ever wondered if you could make a difference check out this young girl, Sarah Kavanagh’s victory at Change.org – she started a petition aimed at getting BVO out of one of her favorite drinks Gatorade!  She was able to get over 200,000 signatures!  What a hero!  Way to go Sarah!  And now she’s working on getting BVO out of Powerade – please make a difference and sign her petition – it only takes a moment of your time if you click here.

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