BVO: What Every Parent Should Know

If you’ve read my previous What Every Parent Should Know posts: Fluoride and BPA, you had probably already heard of those substances. But, BVO? You might have never heard of that but you really need to know about it!

What is BVO?

BVO stands for Brominated Vegetable Oil.  Bromine atoms are added to the oil until it achieves the same density as water.  The enables the BVO to stay suspended in water and not separate in layers.  BVO is used as an emulsifier (a substance that forces two liquids that would not normally combine to combine) in citrus flavored beverages.  BVO is in Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Powerade, Pineapple and Orange Fanta, Orange Crush, Sun Drop, Squirt and Fresca, BVO can also be found in some bakery products and brands of pasta.

BVO is banned in over 100 countries but in the US it is one of only 4 substances given “Interim” status – meaning it needs further study and in the interim is permited in foods until it can be researched.  It has been in an interim status since 1984.

Is BVO Dangerous?

Bromides (which include Brominated Vegetable Oil, polybromo diphenyl ethers or PBDEs which is used as a fire retardant, methyl bromide which is used in pesticides especially on strawberries, and in some hot tub/pool treatments) are endocrine disruptors and they are in a family of compounds called Halides.  The halides are: Fluoride, Chloride, Bromide, Iodide, and Astatide.  We are constantly exposed to the very toxic fluorides, chlorides, and bromides and this competes in your body for the same receptors with iodides.  Iodine is an essential element our bodies need.  When fluoride, chloride, and bromide stop iodine from being used in the body we have the double threat of toxicity and iodine deficiency.  Bromide is particularly aggressive in pushing out iodine which leds to the Bromide Dominance Theory.

BVO and Your Thyroid

Bromine is such a strong “bully” in the thyroid that it is implicated in nearly every thyroid condition.  In one study[1. Vobecky M et al., Interaction of Bromine with Iodine in the Rat Thyroid Gland at Enhanced
Bromide Intake, Biol Trace Elem Res 1996.] fully 1/3 of the iodine content in the thyroids of rats was displaced by bromide.

BVO and Cancer

Iodine deficiency is linked to cancers of the breast, thyroid, ovaries, and prostate;

Iodine-deficient breast tissues are also more susceptible to carcinogen action and promote lesions earlier and in greater profusion. Metabolically, iodine-deficient breasts show changes in RNA/DNA ratios, estrogen receptor proteins, and cytosol iodine levels[2. Eskin BA. Iodine and mammary cancer.  Adv Exp Med Biol. 1977;91:293-304.]

BVO and Mental Health

Bromine toxicity is can cause headaches, memory loss, skin rashes and severe acne, loss of appetite and abdominal pain, fatigue, and cardiac arrhythmias.  Additionally bromine can cause schizophrenia;

Bromide intoxication has the power to bring to the surface a latent schizophrenia…It is wise to examine the serum for bromide routinely in every acute psychosis, rather than to do so only “when indicated.” If the test is not made routinely, one will overlook some cases, for sometimes one does not suspect a bromide psychosis until an unexpected recovery has opened one’s eyes, at which point it may be too late to verify the diagnosis chemically[2. M. Levin. Bromide Hallucinosis. Arch Gen Psychiatry, April 1, 1960; 2(4): 429 – 433].

Sources for BVO and Bromides

BVO is, as mentioned, in Mountain Dew, Gatorade, Powerade, Pineapple and Orange Fanta, Orange Crush, Sun Drop, Squirt and Fresca.  Bromides are also in (from The Bromide Dominance):

BREAD – Potassium bromate as an additive to most commercial bread and baked goods.

WATER –  When drinking water containing bromide is exposed to ozone, bromate ion, a powerful oxidizing agent, is formed.  Two significant recalls of drinking water involving bromate have occurred:  Wegmann’s Food You Feel Good About Spring Water Recall in 2006, and Coca-Cola’s Dasani in 2004.

TOOTHPASTE, MOUTHWASH AND GARGLES – Potassium bromate is an antiseptic and astringent in toothpaste, mouth and gargles.  Very toxic if taken internally.  May cause bleeding and inflammation of gums in toothpaste.

BROMIDE IN FLAME RETARDANTS – Flame retardants reduce the flammability of a wide variety of commercial and household products.  Some brominated home retardants migrate from the products in which they are used and are entering the environmentand people.

PERSONAL PRODUCTS AND SOME COSMETICS – Sodium bromate is in permanent wave neutralizers, hair dye material, and the textile dyeing process. (28) Benzalkonium is used as a preservative
in some cosmetics.

What Can You Do?

  1. Eat Organic to avoid pesticides
  2. Don’t drink beverages including Brominated Vegetable Oil (it is required to be listed as an ingredient)
  3. Eat Whole-grain breads and look for “bromine-free” on baked good labels – Pepperidge Farms is all bromine-free.
  4. If you own a hot tub, look into an ozone purification system.  If you own a pool use salt-water (chlorine in both is bad anyways).
  5. Look for bromine-free personal care products – Always consult Skin Deep, the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics Database.


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