Bengaluru: Not many of our city’s health enthusiasts know much about BVO and its hazardous implications. “I don’t gym, but I do swim and have red bull and monster and Gatorade,” says 26-year-old Jules Robert, who owns an event management company and is the manager of a gaming arena (Lazer tag) in the city. About BVO, he is clueless. “I know that there are certain drinks that are unhealthy. But I am not aware of BVO. Surely, it should be like a strong cup of coffee,” he says.
Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO), a synthetic chemical, which is used primarily to help emulsify flavored drinks and sodas, is another thing that should be looked into as it has equally life-threatening repercussions as lead. “It is certain that most of the flavoured sodas and energy drinks have BVO. But they don’t label it. And as consumers, people do not have any idea about BVO in their energy drinks,” says Dr Priyanka Rohatgi, Chief Clinical Dietician, head of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Apollo Hospitals.
“Energy drinks are being widely used with people having no knowledge about their adverse impact on health. More importantly, gym-goers and women think that they can have energy drinks and substitute them with not having food, thinking that they will live by the energy not realising the hazard they can cause,” says Dr Priyanka.
“It avoids separation of the flavouring agent and the liquid. It’s added as an emulsifier to prevent the flavoring agent from separating and floating to the surface. There are studies which have stressed that more than one-and-a-half litres of any soft drink, which contains BVO, can cause memory loss and other disorders,” says Mamata A.H., chief dietitian, Vikram Hospital.
On the negative health implication of such drinks, Dr Priyanka says, “This has relation to some neurological problems which affect the brain directly. Women have serious fertility issues as well. Basically, early ageing of the brain happens and we see diseases such as Alzheimer’s and thyroid-related issues when we dig deeper into their consumption pattern.”
Sadly, doctors have no idea about the permissible limit for this additive. “The limit for use of processed vegetable oil treated with bromine, which is not a food product, is not determined. The FDA limits the amount of BVO allowed in fruit-flavored beverages to 15 parts per million,” says Dr Priyanka.
What is Brominated Vegetable Oil?
Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) is vegetable oil derived from corn or soy bonded with the element, bromine. It is added as an emulsifier to prevent the flavoring agent from separating and floating on the surface. Bromines are common endocrine disruptors.
What makes bromine so dangerous is that it 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 iodine it needs. And iodine affects every tissue in your body, not just your thyroid....