Food Allergies and Nutrient Deficiency
Food allergies affect millions of people around the world, and the worst part is that they are not curable. Apart from causing a lot of annoying and even dangerous symptoms, food allergies may increase your risk for certain types of nutrient deficiency, since the only way to prevent the symptoms is to avoid the allergenic foods, sometimes even whole food groups. Thus, having a milk allergy may lead to deficiency of calcium and vitamin D, a fish allergy may cause deficit of omega-3 fatty acids, while an allergy to wheat may leave you without important sources of iron, zinc, magnesium, as well as B vitamins. All these nutrients are essential for your overall health. Therefore, many people with one or multiple food allergies need to be taking a multivitamin.
In order to prevent this nutrient deficiency, you should pay careful attention to the foods you eat. However, a lot of food-allergic people find it difficult to control their nutrient intake, which may significantly affect their nutritional status, growth and development (in children), as well as overall health.
How Do Food Allergies Affect Child Development?
According to research, people and especially kids with food allergies tend to experience the deficit of vitamin D, calcium or omega-3 fatty acids. Avoidance of certain food allergens may also lead to deficient intake of zinc, selenium, and magnesium.
Another study that has been published recently showed that about 60% of food-allergic children of various ages (from 4 weeks to 16 years of age) were not getting enough vitamin D. Low intake of nutrients such as zinc, selenium, and copper was also reported.
These findings have proven giving a multivitamin or mineral supplement to children with one or several food allergies can help to prevent the nutrient deficiency.
Make Sure to Choose the Right Supplement
If you are allergic to certain foods, you most likely know how important it is to know how to read the ingredients labels when selecting allergy-safe foods. The same applies to selecting supplements. However, the problem with these labels is that the ingredients can change without any warning, or they may even not give the whole list of ingredients.
While food manufacturers are required to provide all the information about the ingredients of the product, according to the Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, multivitamin and mineral supplements don’t fall under the regulation of FALCPA. This is because these products are classified as “dietary supplements”, which are not controlled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Nevertheless, although dietary supplements manufacturers are not normally required to provide the full lists of ingredients, many of them do put allergy warnings on their product labels.
How to Find an Allergy-Safe Dietary Supplement?
When choosing a supplement, study the product label carefully and check whether your food allergen is mentioned in the ingredients list. Remember that sometimes, food allergens can be listed on a product label under their derivative (alternative) names. Besides, you can also find vitamins whose labels provide information about common allergens.
Try to find supplements with the seal of the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), which is a non-profit organization that controls the quality of various prescription and non-prescription medications. Drugs and supplements verified by the USP are generally of higher quality and safe from contaminants. USP-approved brands include Kirkland, TruNature, NatureMade, and Berkley & Jensen.
When it comes to dosing, you should follow the dosage directions on the supplement’s label. The recommended daily dose is usually the same as the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), but if you have a certain deficiency, your doctor may prescribe you a different dose. However, don’t take high doses yourself, as an overdose of some vitamins may cause poor absorption of other nutrients and other health problems.
Remember that you should always talk to your doctor before taking any medications, including dietary supplements.
Which Supplements Are Allergen-Free?
If you are looking for allergen-free vitamin and mineral supplements, you may want to consider the following brands:
- Zahler’s Kosher Chewable Multivitamin
- Nature’s Plus Animal Parade Children’s Chewable
- Nordic Naturals Natural Berries chewable gummies
- Yummi Bears Organics vitamin and mineral supplements.
In addition, for an added source of calcium, you can try Caltrate, Tums or powdered calcium, while for those with vitamin D deficiency, there are liquid D3 drops and chewable D3 tables. If you need a supplement that combines calcium and vitamin D, try Vitacost Calcium Citrate (with vitamin D3 and magnesium), Vitafusion calcium and vitamin D gummies, as well as Citracal calcium and vitamin D gummies.
These are only examples of allergy-safe brands. However, you should always check the ingredients label before purchasing any supplement, because composition and manufacturing process can often be changed. Some allergen-free supplements are only available online.