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Hypersensitivity to Vitamins with a Focus on Immediate-Type Reactions: Food or Drug Allergy?


Calogiuri Gianfranco*, Lene H. Garvey, Eustachio Nettis, Francesco Casciaro, Shirina Alsowaidi, Caterina Foti and Angelo Vacca   Pages 1 - 13 ( 13 )


Vitamins are essential substances for normal cell functions, growth, and development. However, they cannot be produced by the human organism, so intake must be through the diet. Vitamin deficiency causes the onset of different diseases, ranging from pellagra to pernicious anemia, which can be corrected by reintroducing the missing vitamin form. To supply the right amount of vitamins to the body, every vitamin naturally occurring in foodstuff has been identified, extracted and synthetically produced, thus allowing either food fortification with these compounds or their pharmaceutical production. Furthermore, the increased importance attributed nowadays to body wellness and the pursuit of a permanent status of health at all costs has greatly encouraged a high consumption of vitamin supplements in modern society, since vitamin deficiencies may be responsible for adverse or toxic effects. However, excess vitamins can induce hypervitaminosis. In the USA, a national survey confirmed that 52% of adult Americans take at least one or more supplement product, vitamins and minerals being the most popular supplements in that country. Although vitamins are widespread natural substances, they may induce immediate or delayed type hypersensitivity reactions. Such adverse events are still underestimated and poorly recognized because only single cases have been reported in literature but no general review has yet collected and investigated the mechanisms underlying sensitization to each vitamin, the diagnosis, and the management strategies adopted for vitamin hypersensitivity. Although delayed-type reactions to different vitamins are described in literature, in our review, attention was focused mainly on immediate type reactions. Due to the importance of vitamins, further information about the above aspects [pathomechanisms, diagnosis and management) would be highly desirable to focus the state of the art on this particular, underestimated form of allergy, thus increasing allergists' awareness of these elusive hypersensitivity reactions.


Vitamins, anaphylaxis, immediate-type reaction, food allergy, drug allergy, multivitamins.


Pneumology and Allergy Department - Civil Hospital “Sacro Cuore”, Gallipoli [Lecce], Allergy Clinic, Department of Dermato-Allergology, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Hellerup, Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, School of Allergology and Clinical Immunology, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, First Aid Center- Civil Hospital “Sacro Cuore” Gallipoli [Lecce], Department of Internal Medicine, UAE University, Al-Ain, Unit of Dermatology, Department of Biomedical Science and Human Oncology, University of Bari Medical School, Bari, Department of Biomedical Science and Human Oncology, Section of Internal Medicine and Clinical Oncology University of Bari Medical School, Bari

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