Should I be taking vitamins to make up for my fruit allergies?
October 14, 2009 1:15 PM   Subscribe

I'm allergic to most fruits. Should I be taking some sort of multivitamin?

I am allergic to varying degrees to a variety of delicious and nutritious foodstuffs. I'm most allergic to bananas, kiwis, mangoes, and avocados (not to a hospitalization/EpiPen extent, but I usually would stop eating only a few bites into any of the above), and am somewhat more mildly allergic to apples, oranges, berries, grapes, as well as carrots and a few varieties of nuts. I can eat probably about half of an apple or orange before the throat swelling/tingling/itchiness really starts to get to me, but I usually just don't eat said fruits so that I can avoid the allergic reactions altogether.

I don't think that it's due to pesticides, since I usually wash fruits fairly thoroughly. It seems like cooked fruits either don't give me allergic reactions or diminish the reactions, but it's not always convenient for me to be cooking everything.

If eating raw fruit is usually out of the picture, is there some sort of vitamin or multi-vitamin that I should be taking to pick up the slack in getting the right vitamins and minerals in my diet? If so, is there anything in specific or any vitamins and minerals that I should be looking for to replace what I would have been getting from fruit (especially the bananas, mangoes, etc.)? Should I just be eating a lot of processed pre-cooked fruit products and crossing my fingers that I don't get a reaction?

Thanks, everyone!
posted by stleric to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
FYI, it's definitely not due to pesticides. I have a close friend with the same allergies; cooked fruit also doesn't bother him.

I think dark, leafy greens for vitamin C and potassium might be a good idea.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:28 PM on October 14, 2009

Best answer: Bananas are high in potassium, which can be found in potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, cucumber, spinach, broccoli, tuna, and halibut.

Citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C, which can be found in peppers, brussesls sprouts, cauliflower, and green cabbage.

Carrots are high in beta carotene, which is found in cereals, grains, spinach, and dandelion greens.

I think you can make up for your allergies by substituting foods to which you don't have an allergy that contain the same vitamins. If you're allergic to bananas, and avocados (and figs), you may have a latex allergy. That's how it manifests in me.
posted by xingcat at 1:38 PM on October 14, 2009

Bananas, kiwis, mangoes and avocados often produce symptoms in people allergic to latex. You might also have symptoms of oral allergy syndrome.

I'm pointing this out because it is lore likely than a pesticide reaction of some sort.

As far as vitamin supplements, it is generally better to eat whole foods, so substitution of other foods or cooking large batches and freezing in smaller portions would be my suggestion.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:59 PM on October 14, 2009

I don't think that it's due to pesticides, since I usually wash fruits fairly thoroughly. It seems like cooked fruits either don't give me allergic reactions or diminish the reactions, but it's not always convenient for me to be cooking everything.

This definitely sounds like oral allergy syndrome. Do you also have seasonal summer allergies, like trees and ragweed? The wiki link describes the relationship.

I've got this as well (which is extra-annoying when you're a vegetarian) and just work on eating more of the things I can eat, like xingcat described.
posted by Adam_S at 2:46 PM on October 14, 2009

For the vast majority of people taking a multivitamin is a waste of time, but it's not really harmful (just expensively pointless). So yeah, you should be trying to substitute as much as possible and keep up the variety in your diet as much as you can within your restrictions. A lot of the good stuff in fruit and veggies isn't vitamins per se (eg polyphenols), so that's going to be good for you regardless.

But you could also just try taking a multivitamin once a day, following the instructions, for say a month and see if it makes a difference to how you feel. If you feel noticeably better in some way then you can either work with a doctor and/or a nutritionist to track down what you're missing and supplement that or (assuming it's working for you) you could just keep taking the multi. In the long run targeted supplementation is cheaper and often more effective but, eh, multis are easy.

I agree that this sounds very much like oral allergy syndrome so if you do decide to take a multi look for one that only has named vitamins and minerals in there, no plant extracts or similar. You don't know what will be in those and there may be allergens for you. Tabletting aids and other inert ingredients can also trigger allergies in some people so for anything new try them carefully to make sure you aren't reacting before you start taking them regularly.
posted by shelleycat at 3:07 PM on October 14, 2009

Best answer: Microwaving fruit alters the enzymes that trigger the allergic reaction. You get the "raw" fruit without the problems.
posted by uans at 3:14 PM on October 14, 2009

I would highly suggest going to a doctor and finding out what specifically your allergic to. If its the pesticides and not the fruit you can find organic supermarkets that dont use pesticides.

It will be very helpfull to find out what you are allergic to.
posted by majortom1981 at 4:02 PM on October 14, 2009

IANAD, but I do have fructose malabsorbtion. The only fruits I can eat without a reaction are berries, in very small quantities - other than that, I haven't eaten fruit since my diagnosis in 2003.

I do not take supplements of any kind, and I haven't noticed a change in my health for the worse.

From what I understand, we've only cultivated fruits for a pretty short amount of time in human history. This whole five-a-day thing promoted in the US? Our ancestors didn't do it, and they lived to tell about it. So as long as I'm eating fiber in other form - mainly green veggies for me - I don't worry about not eating fruit.
posted by chez shoes at 4:46 PM on October 14, 2009

This sounds like one of those tricky questions you should just go to a doctor for. They can test you for the allergies and then tell you what you should do to supplement your diet appropriately based on these allergies. I certainly can't tell you these things.
posted by lucy.jakobs at 5:26 PM on October 14, 2009

I have oral allergy syndrome and you can go to an allergist and get tested for which fruits you should have a reaction to by determining what trees and grasses you're allergic to. I'm allergic to a lot of trees, but he explained there's a correlation between certain pollens and certain fruits, like if your allergic to larch trees you might react to kiwis. He had some sort of chart on his pda, but like I said I'm allergic to most tree pollen.

My understanding is that it's a topical reaction to the enzymes in the raw fruit, (ie, my body confuses the enzymes in a raw cherry with some tree pollen I'm allergic to) Because the cooking denatures the enzymes I can eat any fruit or vegetable if its cooked. I can't even really touch raw carrots but I love to eat them cooked.

As for the vitamins, a friend in medical school said he attended a lecture where a researcher explained that the complex make-up of fruit helps you absorb more of the vitamins, and that in essence, vitamin supplements make expensive urine. One example was that if someone ate a 1000mg of vitamin C they peed out some large percentage of it, but if they ate an orange they peed only a small percentage (even if an orange has only has 50mg of vitamin C at least you absorb it).

So I eat what I can raw: apples, oranges, pineapples, bananas; completely avoid some things like raw carrots and all stone fruit; and take a nibble with other fruits like pears and melons, if my lips itch I call it quits.
posted by JulianDay at 6:23 PM on October 14, 2009

I have the same problem, but just thought I was a freak (as, according to a doctor I once saw, I am)! Glad to know I'm not the only one.

I don't take multivits regularly but I do eat as many as possible of the vegies that I can eat without a reaction. If I get sick or feel run down, I take vitamins just in case. I've never had scurvy yet so I guess I'm doing something right.
posted by indienial at 3:35 AM on October 15, 2009

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