"Phenykletonurics: Contains Phenylalanine" Today is PKU awareness day, and I have PKU. AMA.
I did an AMA a while back, and others have done them as well. Today is PKU Awareness Day, so in case anyone out there is still curious, AMA.
The rundown: PKU is a hereditary metabolic disorder in which the liver doesn't produce enough of the enzymes that break down the essential amino acid phenylalanine ("phe" for short.) Phenylalanine would normally be processed into tyrosine, but for individuals with PKU, the enzyme activity is completely nonexistent or diminished, and the increased levels of phe become toxic to the central nervous system. Treatment involves a very restricted diet, and a prescribed medical food that contains all the amino acids except phenylalanine. It is now accepted that treatment must be maintained for life; although in the past, patients were told to stop treatment during adolescence. Phenylalanine is the main component of the artificial sweetener aspartame, hence the phenylketonuric warnings on gum and diet sodas. It is also present in almost every food to some degree.
If you or someone you know has PKU and needs support, please visit one of the websites below and/or look up support groups online. There are a lot on facebook (just search for pku or phenylketonuria), and here we can be found at /r/phenylketonuria
http://www.npkua.org/ United States
edit: I was verified by the mods in a previous post: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1i4nz2/phenylketonurics_contains_phenylalanine_i_have/cb0xqjj
edited edit: That's "phenyLKetonurics" up top... I've typed it so many times today that I was bound to goober it up somewhere. Of course it's in the one place I can't fix it!