http://www.fedupwithfoodadditives.info/factsheets/Factsulphites.htm has some excellant info.
http://www.buyusa.gov/spokane/euallergenregs.html says that the EU is starting to require sulfites be listed on packaged food labels. So you may be able to report companies for non-compliance...something to look in to, anyway. There should be a code on the food label that corresponds to each additive, but I wasn't able to locate a list online in a quick search. The additive codes typically start with an E and have 3-4 digits after the E. I think sulfites (also spelled sulphite) have a separate code for each type of sulfite.
http://www.google.com/Top/Health/Conditions_and_Diseases/Allergies/Food/ is another interesting site...
I have to be careful with sulfur in general. I have some kind of a sulfur intolerance (allergic to Sulfa antibiotics, have difficulty tolerating foods known to be high in sulfur, can't have iron sulfate) in addition to the sulfite sensitivity, and do find I react to sulfates in some cases.
If your body wasn't converting sulfites into sulfates, you'd probably be in the hospital. True sulfite oxidase deficiency is hereditary and usually fatal. However, there can be deficiencies of sulfite oxidase that don't completely eliminate the enzyme and that I believe is where the problem for those of us with sulfite sensitivity lies. We thus must be careful to reduce our exposure to sulfites, while at the same time supporting the function of what sulfite oxidase enzyme we do have. Also, there are other reasons for the sulfite oxidase enzyme not working as it should - nutritional imbalances, heavy metal toxicity, allergies, air pollution (car exhaust has sulfur dioxide = sulfite), effects of certain medications, etc. can all affect how the sulfite oxidase enzyme functions. How carefully you need to pay attention to all this depends on how sensitive you are to sulfites - if you can only eat something if it has less than the detectable amounts of sulfite (10ppm or 10mg...can't remember) you'll have more difficulty than if you only need to worry about
things with more than 50ppm/50mg of sulfite.
The sublingual B12 cyanocobolamine should be fine short-term. The toxicity issue is only a problem with long-term high-dose supplementation. You may also find that you can reduce your B12 intake after a while of high dose supplementation. I was getting shots weekly but after about
9 months, could finally space them out more (I'm down to 1 shot every 4-6 weeks).
I have trouble with multi-vitamin supplements for other reasons, but I seem to do ok with biotin by itself... Because there are 6 different forms of sulfites, I may not be sensitive to all 6 forms, or my sensitivity level may vary for each of the 6 forms of sulfites. That said, I also am getting the B12, so maybe that is keeping me from reacting terribly. Also, sulfite sensitivity is cumulative, so you may find you do ok one day with a particular food/supplement, but the next day you can't handle it. This is because it can take 24-48 hours for enough sulfite to accumulate to trigger a reaction. So there is a moving window of 48 hours that influences your total sulfite exposure. If you stay below your triggering threshold amount during any given 48 hour period, you won't have a reaction.
I actually overdosed on Molybdenum (blood test showed very high levels), so I don't supplement with it anymore. I used to take 500-1000mcg/day. Excess copper can displace zinc in the sulfite enzyme, so make sure you are getting a balanced amount of these two minerals... Estrogens (estrogenic foods are soy, chocolate, some other foods) promote excess copper in the body, also, so most women have fewer difficulties with copper deficiency than men. This answered the question as to why chocolate bothers me during my cycle but not any other time of the month (when eaten in moderation).
Tea is a big problem for me - partly because of the tea bags (loose herbs can be used instead with your own stainless steel strainer), and partly because of other allergies/intolerances/sensitvities. Caffeine really bothers my stomach, so I avoid black tea and other caffeine sources. I seem to do ok with occasional green tea, if I only drink a little bit and dilute it with water.
Tap water is another potential source of sulfites, so I have to avoid it (also the chlorine and other additives bother me). I also can't drink water that has been passed through carbon filters, as the carbon is often derived from coconut charcoal and the coconut is sulfited if it isn't organic. For water, I drink a certain brand of bottled water. I'm ok brushing my teeth with tap/filtered water as long as I rinse out my mouth afterwords with the safe bottled water.
Fermented foods in general are high in sulfites - yogurt, buttermilk, cheese, wine, vinegar, tofu (my worst reaction ever was from tofu because I'm also allergic to soy), miso, soy sauce, etc. can all cause reactions, depending on your level of sensitivity. I do ok with yogurt if I am faithful about
my B12 supplements.
There's no such thing as reading too much. It is far better to be an informed, educated person - knowledge equips you to participate actively in your own health.
Sulfite Sensitivity is considered rare (the US FDA thnks only 1% of the population is sulfite sensitive), but I think it is more common than the medical establishment believes it is. Unfortunately, there are no tests for sulfite sensitivity that will find every case of sulfite sensitivity. While sulfites can trigger mast cell degeneration independly of IgE antibodies, a person can also have antibodies to the Sulfite Oxidase enzyme (seen in some liver diseases). Also, sulfite accumulation due to insufficient sulfite oxidase enzyme function and/or quantity can produce the familiar symptoms we experience with our reactions (mine can be anything from a mild headache or sore throat to anaphylaxis, but most commonly are acid reflux that doesn't respond to acid reflux treatment, and nausea). Vitamin B12 and the appropriate nutritional supplementation can increase tolerance (increase the threshold of reactivity) to sulfites if the enzyme is where the problem is, but the only thing that will stop a sulfite reaction if it is allergic (i.e., sulfites making mast cells degenerate) is a combination of Vitamin B12 (binds directly to sulfites, rendering them inert) and antihistamines.
Feel free to ask more questions - I don't mind answering them.
I hope this helps - take care,
Gluten & Sulfite Sensitivity, Multiple Food & Inhalant & Medication Allergies, Asthma, Gut issues (dysmotility, non-specific inflammation), UCTD (Lupus?), Osteoporosis, Anemia, Very Low Lymphocyte Counts (T-Cells & B-Cells), malabsorption/malnutrition, etc.
Meds: Pulmicort, Injectable Vitamin B12, Herbs, Nutritional Supplements, Essential Oils, Homeopathy.