Sulfites are much more common than we may realize at first. A lot of food and drink have small amounts of it which makes it much easier to accidentally and unknowingly load up on sulfites. But by understanding the situation and keeping an eye out for these foods, we may be able to ease one of many burdens on our cells.
Some people’s biochemistry does not allow them to process sulfites well, and some of us don’t get enough of the nutrients required to run the biochemistry that processes sulfites.
While we’re trying to heal, or looking into pushing detox, staying away from sulfites, and supporting the systems that process them can be very helpful.
Do you suffer from any of these ailments? Keep them in mind as you progress through your own detox and healing, or watch others complain of similar situations.
Sulfites can cause a lot of reactions
Exposure to sulphites has been reported to induce a range of adverse clinical effects in sensitive individuals, ranging from dermatitis, urticaria, flushing, hypotension, abdominal pain and diarrhea to life-threatening anaphylactic and asthmatic reactions. 1
If you are asthmatic, your chances of being sensitive to sulfites are between 1 in 20 and 1 in 100 2
- Hives and itchiness
- Hay fever
- Upset stomach, diarrhea, and vomiting
- Gi distress
- Trouble swallowing
- Skin rash
- Nasal congestion
- Auto immune
- Drop in blood pressure
- Trouble breathing
Doctors say in some people, sulfites have triggered severe asthma attacks, but in recent years, sulfites are also being linked to an increase in migraine headaches, heart palpitations, hives and even joint pain.3
Wait, SEVERE asthma attacks?
When someone finally consumes enough of the foods, beverages, medications or supplements I list below, they could potentially have a severe asthma attack?
That’s rather alarming. What if people afflicted by severe asthma attacks are simply exposing themselves to enough compounds to finally overload this gene and cause a reaction?
How is Cream of Tartar involved?
Cream of Tartar is a food ingredient commonly added to cookies, eggs, candy and other baked goods. It’s also been commonly recommended in Facebook groups in something called an Adrenal Cocktail to supplement potassium. It’s also great at cleaning brass and other metals.
Cream of Tartar is made with tartaric acid and potassium hydroxide. Most tartaric acid comes from wine making, which is where sulfites are introduced. Potassium hydroxide is Lye or caustic potash, which is common, so the source could be from anywhere.
To keep microbial activity down in wine making, as well as anti-oxidize the wine, sulfur dioxide is used.4 This ends up creating sulfites in the wine, which end up in the tartaric acid used to create Cream of Tartar.
Sufiltes are so common in wine making that some people claim wine without sulfites would be completely different chemistry 5 This means any Cream of Tartar created from wine will have some level of sulfites.
The best alternative to Cream of Tartar is fresh lemon juice. Use twice as much lemon juice. Vinegar, buttermilk or yogurt can substitute as well. Organic baking powder also works.
What is a sulfite?
A sulfite is the result of Sulfur Dioxide chemically reacting with something. The end result of this happens to benefit various profit generating processes in some way. Along the way, it carries out various, most likely partially unknown reactions with nutrients in our food.
So we’re using Sulfur Dioxide for the purpose of altering food and drink to increase profit, and in the process, the food and drink is being altered. As nutrients of the food are altered by Sulfur Dioxide, they generate a substance called a sulfite, which some people do not have the biochemistry to process.
Sulfur dioxide destroys Thiamine 6 which is just one example of the potential damaging effects of sulfur dioxide’s use in food. Thiamine(B1) is an extremely important nutrient that most of us most likely need more of. Without B1, our mitochondria are not so happy. Our mitochondria are what generates the energy a lot of processes our cells use to run our metabolism.
What causes us to react?
As we breathe sulfur dioxide or absorb sulfites with our skin or eat foods with sulfites, our digestive system has to process them or they will end up trying to react with our cells, which is where we can start having reactions.
Our SOUX gene reduces sulfites into sulfates so our body can finish processing them. Without a nutrient called Molybdenum(Mb), this gene does not function properly. If we react poorly to even natural food based sulfur compounds, we may possibly need a bit more than molybdenum to get everything we require running again. The core of our methylation system may need some work. My other website gets into the basics of this https://sickoftired.com/methylation/
Food products with sulfites
We’ve known about some of the negative reactions associated with sulfur dioxide’s use in food since the 1970’s, but we continue to use it in many foods and drinks. (It’s almost like profit is the main focal point in everything.. almost)
Can we seriously assume a person with asthma or all the other symptoms has not been exposed to any of these foods or ingredients? And can we really assume sulfites were ruled out?
Several people in my family suffer from asthma related conditions and I have suffered from a handful of these sulfite symptoms. The only thing I knew of or ever heard from anyway else to avoid, was wine.. I would have gladly avoided the rest of these foods to attempt mitigating the migraines and headaches I’ve been through.
- Bottled soft drinks
- Fruit juice
- Lemon and Lime juice
- Grape Juice
- Dried apricots
- Fruit bars
- Fruit toppings/salads
- Gravies and sauces
- Maraschino cherries
- Pickled & ferments
- Syrups, jams & jellies
- Dried potatoes
- Pizza dough
- Aged meats
Cask wine has higher sulfites than bottle. White wine has more than red.
Sulfite food preservatives
- Sulfur Dioxide
- Sodium metabisulfite
- Potassium metabisulfite
- Calcium sulfite
- Sodium sulfite
- Sodium bisulfite
- Calcium bisulfite
- Potassium bisulfite
Notice anything interesting in the names of these preservatives? Other than the Sulfur Dioxide, these are sulfites, which are the product of sulfur dioxide. And they are bound to electrolytes.. I wonder if this type of reaction has the potential to happen inside our body? I think it does, and I think it causes electrolytes to become trapped in a toxic form.
Cosmetics with sulfites
Other sources include cosmetics, hair color, creams and perfumes. Medicines like eye drops, topical meds, corticosteroids, adrenaline, and local anesthetics.
- Hair color & bleaches
- Skin lighting
- Fake tan lotions
- Facial creams
- Eye creams
- Body soap
- Hair spray
Medications with sulfites
- Corticosteroid creams
- Injectable corticosteroids
- Local anaesthetics
- Eye drops
- Aminoglycoside antibiotics
- Vitamin B complex
They also have a number of industrial uses, including in the photographic and textile industries, where people have negative reactions to them as well.7
What does this have to do with iodine?
I put this page together to explain the situation with a popular method of supplementing electrolytes and supporting adrenals. There has been an increase of people recommending a drink called an “Adrenal Cocktail”, which commonly recommends using Cream of Tartar, which almost always has sulfites in it.
Most of the people using this drink are attempting to heal issues that Cream of Tartar and its sulfites might be causing. The adrenal cocktail and other foods may not cause a reaction in everyone, but I’ve already seen several people with an instantaneous reaction. By consuming this large dose of sulfite containing powder, it’s very possible that someone not usually sensitive to sulfites could eventually create an issue. Our genes can only work so fast, and then they max out and we experience symptoms. As we detox with iodine and nutrition, we may also cause a similar situation as we run low on available cells to keep up with everything we’re trying to do. Detox is for long term benefit, but in the meantime, part of our energy and ability is diverted to situations just like this one.
A silver lining?
If sulfite sensitivity seems to line up with a lot of our issues, we now have a target system in our metabolism we know needs some type of support. With so much new information becoming available about the nutrients our genes require, there will most likely be information that helps us clean up our system and move forward.
Any mainstream medical articles I’ve come across claim we have to avoid sulfite containing foods for life. But they fail to mention molybdenum being a co-factor of the SOUX gene. What if most people are just very far behind on molybdenum, or are not able to utilize it currently for some reason? There are other deficiencies that can hold back the SOUX gene, but this starts getting into general methylation and sulfuration issues. I’ve started pulling information together about methylation on my other site https://sickoftired.com/methylation/
Look into molydenum
I used to get migraines if I would have more than one glass of red wine within a few months of each other. So I was excited to try molybdenum drops in hopes that it would help me with this situation. Now I seem to be able to drink wine without feeling the oncoming symptoms of a migraine anymore. I barely used much of this stuff. I’ve probably taken less than 30 drops over the course of several months.
Legumes are a good source of molybdenum. I’ve never been a fan of any legumes, so maybe that has something to do with me being low. Leafy vegetables are a good source, as well as whole grains, nuts and beef liver.
Seeking Health Optimal Molybdenum Drops
- Molybdenum is found in human bones, liver and kidneys.
- It plays a role in waste processing in the kidney
- Development of the nervous system
- Breaking food down into energy
- Maintain cellular health & normal cell proliferation
- Support dental health
- Support fat and carb metabolism
- Sustain healthy iron utilization
Did you know glutathione, our body’s master antioxidant, helps B12 activate via our mitochondria? Some people chase B12 issues without realizing this. If our glutathione is low we can have all types of associated issues. Molybdenum is a co-factor for glutathione, so if we’re low enough, we might not be able to keep up with our body’s master antioxidant. Vitamin B2 is also a co-factor to glutathione.
Molybdenum deficiency information
Molybdenum deficiency predisposes mammals to CNS disease because it inactivates both xanthine oxidase-dehydrogenase (the enzyme barrier that protects the CNS from dietary purine loading) and sulfite oxidase (the enzyme barrier that protects the CNS from dietary sulfite loading).
The author proposes that Mo deficiency in humans makes them susceptible to the potential neurotoxic effects of dietary xanthosine, inosine, and sulfur amino acids, and it is the combined effect of these three substances that produces SC-ALS. The following circumstantial evidence supports the notion that a large number of humans are Mo deficient, hence, at risk of this disease..8
Circumstantial evidence already exists for Mo deficiency being involved in the etiology of Parkinson’s disease9
Molybdenum benefits go beyond sulfites
In this article about molydbenum and Parkinson’s disease w/dementia https://www.nature.com/articles/s41531-018-0045-5 they mention “purine loading” causing symptoms of these horrible conditions, but only when molybdenum was low. This seems to be the same situation where we can process the purine if we have enough molybdenum, but otherwise it will remain in a damaging state that degrades our body. Purines aren’t super common but it may be easy to accidentally overload on them as well.
Is molybdenum deficiency common?
Because isolated Mo deficiency has not been associated with clinical disease, it has been assumed that humans eat enough Mo in their daily diet to meet all of their needs. Findings from sheep studies would challenge this assumption. Human Mo ingestion rates have been established in two major surveys: one in the United States and the other in the United Kingdom. It can be calculated from the results of these two surveys that the Mo content of the daily average diet in the United States is 0.07 ppm and that of the United Kingdom 0.04 ppm. However, CNS disease occurs in Mo-deficient sheep that are ingesting dietary purines, when the dietary Mo level falls below 0.04 ppm. 10
Is molybdenum deficiency adding to a growing list of horrible symptoms?
WebMD says molybdenum is safe at up to 2,000mg in adults 11
I’ve been taking only 25mg once a week or so and coincidentally haven’t had a migraine in about a year.
- Adverse reactions to the sulphite additives - Gastroenterol Hepatol Bed Bench. 2012 Winter; 5(1): 16–23. - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4017440/
- Sulfite Sensitivity - Sulfites have been implicated as a cause of asthma symptoms that may range from mild wheezing to potentially life-threatening asthmatic reaction. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11323-sulfite-sensitivity
- Migraines, Joint Pain, Hives Linked To Food Preservative - https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2011/08/10/preservative-in-processed-foods-causing-allergic-reaction/
- The Australian Wine Research Institute - https://www.awri.com.au/industry_support/winemaking_resources/fining-stabilities/microbiological/avoidance/sulfur_dioxide/
- How Sulfites Affect a Wine’s Chemistry - Wine professionals discuss sulfur’s impact on everything from oxidation to aromatic compounds and texture - https://daily.sevenfifty.com/how-sulfites-affect-a-wines-chemistry/
- Sulfur Dioxide and Sulfites - http://www.inchem.org/documents/jecfa/jecmono/v21je15.htm
- Contact dermatitis and asthma from sodium metabisulfite in a photographic technician - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7493478/
- Molybdenum Deficiency Produces Motor Nervous Effects That Are Consistent with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis - https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fneur.2016.00028/full
- Astrocyte dysfunction following molybdenum-associated purine loading could initiate Parkinson’s disease with dementia - https://www.nature.com/articles/s41531-018-0045-5
- Astrocyte dysfunction following molybdenum-associated purine loading could initiate Parkinson’s disease with dementia - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5861100/