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Information for patients, their families and helpers

Diet: Low-risk, medium-risk and high-risk foods

Based on the most recent analysis of a sample of foods from different food groups, we can divide foods into three groups, according to the levels of phytanic acid they contain:

Group I - Low-risk foods

Foods where no phytanic acid was found.

These foods can be eaten freely.

Group II - Medium-risk foods

Foods found to contain up to about 8mg phytanic acid in a normal serving. Althought adult Refsum's patients can break down some phytanic acid (10-30mg per day), they should aim to take in as little as possible. If their phytanic acid level is low, and either decreasing or stable, they may take one food from this group each day, though preferably not on a regular basis. During illness, or when the phytanic acid levels are high, these foods should be avoided completely.

Group III - High-risk foods

Foods found to contain high levels of phytanic acid - above 10mg and up to 700mg/100g (in fish oils). Also those processed foods containing ingredients known to be high in phytanic acid - cream, butter and 'animal fats', which are often from fish oils. Foods in this group should be avoided completely.

Next: Which foods to eat?

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Page last updated 26 June 2006