It is quite exciting to find a doctor who will listen to you about your corn allergy and all of your strange and random, “non-textbook related” symptoms. You experience all of those hallmark feelings of excitement: you can finally take in a deep breath, you feel you finally have some help, you’re feel your life is going to get a little easier. The doctor recommends that you start taking some vitamins to help rebuild you ravaged GI tract, poorly responding immune system, and sickly looking skin/hair. You ask for a recommendation and you are told to take/try _________ vitamins, they are “corn-free.”
Corn-free. It must be corn-free it says so on the label. Your doctor prescribed it. He wouldn’t lie. Not only are they corn-free, they are also gluten free, soy free, casein free, sugar free, nut free, preservative free, smurf free…. They are “hypoallergenic” and allergy friendly. You are OVERjoyed. You purchase the _______ vitamins for a few HUNDRED dollars and you begin to take them religiously.
It’s two days (three days, a week, two weeks….) later and you feel AWFUL. You actually feel worse than you did before going to see the doctor. Sometimes you can pinpoint the pain but at other times you cannot, your brain is too fuzzy and you can’t think straight. What is happening? Nothing in your diet has changed, in fact you are doing better at eliminating the corn from your lifestyle and yet you still feel worse, one corny reaction after another. Then one day you take your vitamins and notice an immediate reaction (vomit, headache, fuzzy mouth, swollen tongue, itchiness, etc.). Your brain is racing. Was it the water? Was it the cup? Was it the dish soap? No, all of those things are constants in your life. Was it the ….vitamins?
No. It can’t be the vitamins. Can it? They say corn free (and smurf free). The doctor assured you multiple times there were no corn derivatives in those vitamins. They called the company. Or did they? You are frantic at this point. Your allergic reaction is getting worse, it might be becoming difficult to breathe. You decide to call the company to inquire about the original source of the vitamin c, ascorbic acid, and vitamin e.
The representative answers the phone, “Hello, thank you for calling _________. How may I assist you?” You explain your situation and the representative assures you that no corn is in the product. You’re about to hang up the phone when you decide to ask, “What is the vitamin c/ascorbic acid/vitamin e/cellulose/methylcellulose/etc. derived from?” The representative then explains to you that the culprits were originally derived from corn but do to the meticulous refining process, no corn protein is left in the product. So you cannot possibly have an allergic reaction because of the protein has been removed. You decide to not argue with the particular representative and you promptly call your doctor. You are advised to stop taking the vitamins/supplements if you believe they are affecting you but you are told, “The vitamins/supplements should be ok for you” by the nurse. You begin to feel better within the week.
Sound familiar? Unfortunately, corn allergy does not fit the text book allergic reactions like most of the other allergens. Corn allergy sufferers have reported reactions to corn sugar and corn starch as well as corn protein. If your doctor gives you the name of a vitamin/supplement company, please take the time to phone the company before purchasing the supplement. This is especially important if you know you react to corn derivatives, which includes more than just the corn protein. Remember the list of common corn derivatives and put your game face on. Ask questions on the Delphi Forum if you need guidance before placing that phone call.
FYI, your doctor wasn’t lying. He honestly thought the vitamins/supplements were corn free. He firmly believes that when the protein is processed out, you can not have an allergic reaction. So it’s not lying. It’s ignorance and inexperience with the corn allergy.
The happened to me last year. It took me a while to track down what was causing my allergic reactions but I felt much better after I figured it out and I stop my vitamins (Pure Formulas – they say “corn free” on the label). I hope this helps.