Sulfites are a big issue. You may not have heard of them, yet if you are experiencing CFS/FMS symptoms, you should be aware of how they work, what they do, and how they can affect you. Sulfite is sometimes referred to as "Sulphite". An example sulfite is sodium sulfite and metabisulfite, both of which contain SO3 ions.
Foods That Sometimes Contain Sulfites
A sulfites are a kind of food preservative. The following is a list of foods that sometimes contain sulfite preservatives: dried fruit, bottled lemon juice, bottled lime juice, red wine, molasses, sourcrout juice, grape juice (all colors), and yellow die #5 found in Doritos. Foods that sometimes contain sulfites in lesser amounts are mashed potatoes made from dry powder, pickles in a jar, shrimp, cookies, crackers, beet sugar, and pie dough. If a food contains more than 10ppm (parts per million) of sulfite, the FDA requires that the product label list the amount of sulfite. 10ppm is the same as 10mg (10 milligrams) per liter, or about 2mg per cup of a product liquid.
How Sulfites can Hurt You
Sulfites can hurt you if your protective Sulfite Oxidase enzyme (a chemical that converts one chemical to another chemical) is low. Sulfite Oxidase converts sulfites to sulfates, which are not harmful. If your Sulfite Oxidase enzyme is down, the sulfite will swim around your blood and inhibit important enzymes such as Tyrosinase, polyphenoloxidase, and ascorbate oxidase. This can result in the impairment of the synthesis of Dopamine and the conversion of Dopamine to Noradrenaline, which can lead to neurological fatigue. For a review of Noradrenaline and brain chemistry, click here. Also, sulfites can inhibit 90% of lung ATP energy production (as noted in REFERENCE #18), can impair liver cell ATP energy production, and can deplete glutathione (chemical that helps the liver filter the blood and helps protect cell enzymes from damage). Anything that reduces your production of ATP energy can cause fatigue, since low levels of energy are synonymous with fatigue.
Things that can inhibit your protective Sulfite Oxidase enzyme
Things that can impair the protective sulfite oxidase are as follows: heavy metal molecules such as lead and mercury, Sulfa-drugs (e.g. a class of drugs within the sulfa group that can impair pterin synthesis, such as asthmatic inhalants and many antibiotics), molybdenum deficiency, proto-IX-porphyria (enzyme that makes blood inhibited), inherited genetic damage encoding of the SO-enzyme, severe B12-vitamin deficiency, and arrays of So2/SO3-group containing drugs including DMPS (an Rx chelation drug).
How to live safely
In summary, if one wants to be safe, they should avoid things that inhibit the protective sulfite oxidase enzyme (e.g. Sulfa Drugs, heavy metals); and if this protective enzyme does go down, then avoid the Sulfites themselves.
Signs of a Sulfite problem
Below are several clues that one is sensitive to sulfites (which probably means the sulfite oxidase enzyme is down):
1) One becomes tired after ingesting one of the foods, listed above, that contains sulfites. One can look at the food label to see if the product contains sulfites.
2) One coughs after ingesting sulfites, due to the impairment of the lung ATP energy.
3) One has asthma.
4) One develops low blood glucose (sugar) after ingesting sulfites (since sulfites disrupt the regulation of blood sugar).
5) One gets a headache after ingesting sulfites.
6) One experiences itching and reddening of the skin after ingesting sulfites contained in foods, drinks or drugs.
Home Testing for Sulfite Sensitivity
Ingest a food that contains sulfites (not too much at first), as noted by the product label, and look for signs of coughing, headaches, fatigue, or itching/reddening of the skin within 1Hr.
Edmond Scientific Home Testing for Sulfite Sensitivity
Another home test involves purchasing SO3 ion sulfite-test sticks from Edmond Scientific (these $30/100 sticks may not be available on line, one may need to phone their optics division) and then measuring the urinary Sulfite level after feeling fatigued/coughy after ingesting sulfur containing foods such as saccharin, acesulfame-K, yellow # 5, or sulfite itself. One measures the sulfite level by urinating on the sulfite-test stick and looking at the resulting color. If one's sulfite level is greater than 10 ppm, they probably have a sulfite problem, in which case, it is recommended that they discuss this with a Doc that is familiar with Sulfites.
Rx Testing for Sulfite Sensitivity
Another approach is an Rx sulfite sensitivity test where one ingests 5mg, 25mg, 50mg, and then 100mg of sulfite in pill from; and waits to see if they can tolerate the dose, before going to the next dose, since a large dose can be harmful to one that is sensitive to sulfites. After taking the challenge, one looks for coughing, headaches, fatigue, itching/reddening of skin. Another test is to look at the function of the sulfite oxidase enzyme by measuring urinary levels of sulfite after for example a carbocysteine challenge (e.g. 500-1000 mg carbocysteine).
What to do if you have Sulfite Sensitivity...
If you show signs of sulfite sensitivity, then it is recommended that you seek a Doc familiar with treating Sulfite Sensitivity. If your Doc is not, it is recommended that you start interviewing Docs on the phone. The cure involves avoiding sulfites, avoiding things that inhibit the protective sulfite oxidase enzyme, tracking down the cause of the sulfite oxidase inhibition and then treating that if possible. If you have sulfite sensitivity, you are at increased risk of asthma, and therefore addressing this issue early may save you from that experience.
In some cases, Molybdenum, B12-vitamin, P5P-vitamin, B1-vitamin, and tetrahydrofolate supplementation has helped to boost the protective sulfite oxidase a bit. Also, if mercury or lead molecules have induced Protoporphoria (enzyme that makes blood inhibited), detoxifying those heavy metals can help as well. In some cases, the Protoporphoria is inherited, and this is considered incurable at this time. In any case, if the protective sulfite oxidase is down, one can make a great difference by avoiding sulfite containing foods.
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