So apparently without bromine, life on earth would be virtually nonexistent. A recent discovery has put the largely unknown chemical in the same category as calcium and potassium when it comes to keeping us alive. Who would have thought?

Bromine Is The New Calcium!

The foundation for this discovery dates back to the 1980’s but it was not until recently that scientists were able to add bromine to the list of naturally occurring chemical elements essential for human life, Science News reported. According to Professor Billy Hudson of the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, without bromine, “there are no animals”. The chemical is essential for allowing peroxidasin to form its sulfilimine bond.  For all us non-chemists,  in a nutshell, scientists have discovered that bromine is responsible for “animal development and tissue architecture,” Science News reported.

This new finding could potentially lend a hand in research involving human diseases. A study published in the EMBO Journal explained how perxidasin may lead to the excessive disposition of collagen IV and thickening of the basement membrane. This process can potentially help to repair kidney damage. “Bromine supplementation may improve the health of patients on dialysis or total parenteral nutrition, for example,” Scott McCall, the study’s author told Science News. It was found that many patient groups have been shown to be bromine deficient.

These Things Don't Happen Overnight...

The discovery of bromine’s importance was sparked by curiosity surrounding two rare kidney disease caused by the entanglement of two previously unknown proteins. When Hudson moved to Vanderbilt in 2002, research on this subject truly kicked off, but it took a decade before Gautam (Jay) Bhave found peroxidasin to be responsible for forming the defected bonds which caused the rare autoimmune disease, Goodpasture’s syndrome. It was only recently that scientist identified bromine as a “co-factor” for enabling peroxidasin to form its sulfilmine bond.

Pace Yourselves People

For us it’s not necessary to know precisely why bromine is important. Simply knowing that it plays an essential role in keeping us healthy is good enough. Now comes the question, how exactly does one acquire this essential element? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list bromine as a naturally occurring element found in the earth’s crust and in seawater. One does not necessarily need to eat dirt or drink salty ocean water to more of the good stuff. Chances are you don’t need to make any changes to your diet. Natural Health Magazine reported that in the 1970’s bromine replaced iodine as a “dough enhancer in flour. Many beverages such as citrus flavored soft drinks also contain brominated vegetable oil. It’s even in our fruit; strawberries are known to be sprayed with methyl bromide as a pesticide. Too much of a good thing most definitely exists in regard to bromide. Excessive amounts of the element in your system can cause an underactive thyroid gland, a serious condition which cause weight gain and even fertility problems if left unchecked.

Source: McCall A S, Cummings C F, Bhave G, et al. Chemial element bromine is essential to life in humans and other animals, researchers discover. Science Daily. 2014