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Bromine (Br) has the atomic number of 35 and has not been officially designated to be essential for humans at this time, however there have been reports of reduced growth, fertility and life expectancy in some animals as a result of hyperthyroidism secondary to dietary deficiency of bromide. It is used preferentially over chlorine by one anti-parasitic enzyme in humans. Bromine helps to provide a potent mechanism by which eosinophils kill multicellular parasites, such as the nematode worms involved in lymphatic filariasis, and also certain bacteria, such as the tuberculosis bacteria.


In humans and animals, bromine, either as sodium bromide, or potassium bromide, has anti-seizure properties and it is an effective trace mineral in the treatment of hyperthyroid conditions. Many marine plants, particularly kelp, are a rich source of bromine and iodine, so depending on their bromine to iodine ratio, and whether someone is hypothyroid or hyperthyroid, this can have a beneficial or unfavourable effect on thyroid functions when regularly consumed.


Certain cultures regularly consuming seaweed (such as kelp) seem to have an increase in cases of hypothyroidism. Some scientists believed the high iodine content in those marine plants to be the reason. However, it was most likely the bromine content, or a high bromine / iodine ratio in the plants compared to those of other regions. It could also be that these same people consumed higher amounts of "goitrogenic" vegetables, such as cabbage, cassava, lima beans, sweet potatoes and Swede, which can also result in depressed iodine / thyroid functions. On average, most varieties of kelp tend to increase thyroid functions.


Bromides are a common endocrine disruptor. Because bromine is also a halide, it competes for the same receptors that are used in the thyroid gland (among other places) to capture iodine. This will inhibit thyroid hormone production resulting in a low thyroid state.


In hyperthyroidism, where milder forms of nutritional therapy such as para-aminobenzoic acid or magnesium have not been very effective, bromine can be very effective in human and animals and, provided the correct amount is used, no side effects are experienced.  Bromine inhibits both, T4 thyroxine and T3 triiodothyronine hormones, and in some cases only a short course of bromine is needed to return (hyper) thyroid functions back to normal.

Bromides can still be found in some medications, and despite a ban on potassium bromate in flour by the World Health Organization (it was found that potassium bromate caused renal cancer in rats when they drank water containing KBrO3). Although it's use has been restricted, some companies still use brominated vegetable oil and add it as an emulsifier to some soft drinks such as Mountain Dew. Bromides in the form of simple salts are also still used as anticonvulsants in both veterinary and human medicine.


Some nations are still allowing its use as oxidizer in baked goods at very low levels. Bakers associations maintain that potassium bromate is converted to harmless potassium bromide during the baking process.


Bromine was also used as a sleeping aid in the past, for which it worked well, however long-term use of bromides can result in brominism, a toxic condition. In addition, even trace amounts of bromine can trigger severe acne in sensitive individuals.

Bromine-based Fire Retardants [30] used in carpets, mattresses, upholstery, furniture and various electronic equipment have become suspect for causing a number of medical conditions, including hypothyroidism. Based on animal research, bromides have also been linked to behavioural problems, neurodevelopment and attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADD / ADHD) in children. The European Union has already banned some PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl ethers) compounds, and it is hoped that countries still allowing their use will follow suit.


Natural sources of bromine


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