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VITAMINS and SELENIUM
Apr 5, 2009

Hey Doc,

I was recently diagnosed HIV positive. I just got back from a natural vitiamin shop and I'm so confused. The guy there suggested I buy all sorts of expensive vitamins and said I should take selenium as well. I'll go broke if I have to buy all that stuff every month. Do I need it to stay healthy like he says? Dexter

Response from Dr. Frascino

Dexter,

Did Vitamin-Boy happen to mention what medical school he graduated from? No? Hmm . . . what a surprise. Chances are he's a beauty school dropout who works on commission selling high-priced vitamins that will do little for you other than empty your wallet and turn your pee a brilliant yellow color as your body pisses out all the unnecessary supplements you swallowed several hours earlier. Do you need to buy all these expensive natural vitamin supplements to stay healthy? No, of course not. Extra vitamins are really not needed at all if you have a balanced nutritious diet. If you want to take a single multivitamin tablet per day, fine. Choose an inexpensive brand that you can buy in bulk. Use the money you save to buy healthy fruits and vegetables that are loaded with real "natural vitamins and minerals." Remember vitamin supplements are only helpful if you are vitamin deficient. Otherwise they are just a waste. Interestingly, several recent studies have suggested ingesting excess vitamins can actually be harmful!

The selenium supplement story is as bit confusing. I've addressed it before in this forum (see below).

A study was reported last year that claimed selenium increased CD4 counts. However, these increases were tiny compared with the dramatic increases seen with effective combination antiretroviral therapy. The study design also left much to be desired. In fact it's difficult to determine if the small benefit was actually even related to selenium. Stay tuned for further developments. I would not recommend adding megadoses of selenium, or anything else for that matter, to your Starbucks.

Bon appetit,

Dr. Bob

Hello,is doctor Bob there? Apr 21, 2005

Hi doctor Bob

Your are a great man,and the boy is a great resource.I just read the post with the rude guy,you no the one where the guy is complaining,but i also have been woundering why you keep answering the fingering question,it is in the archives and i was also wondering why you did not get mad a the guy who posted about the hiv-med's -on the wrong forum?I am not a rude person,but are there any questions about a ''real risk of transmision?i have posted about 15 times with questions i could not find in the archives,I was just woundering if selenium would help make anti-bodies faster,even if someone had a pre-exsisting auto-immune disorder?thank you doctor bob unequal-man

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Yes, there are lots and lots of questions about the "real risk of transmission," which I've answered so many times that I often feel like "The Department of Redundancy Department." Just check the archives, OK?

Regarding selenium, no, it does not "help make antibodies faster, even if someone had a preexisting autoimmune disorder."

I've avoided answering your questions, because it is not really very practical and consequently not all that useful for others seeking information.

Regarding selenium and HIV in general, there is still some controversy. Selenium is a toxic substance that gets into an environment through burning fossil fuel among other industrial processes. Trace amounts are found in drinking water and foods (Brazil nuts, tuna, etc.). Symptoms of selenium toxicity include brittleness and loss of hair and nails, skin rashes, blisters, vomiting, fatigue, neurological problems and damage to the liver and spleen. The most common cause of toxicity is "vitamin supplements" and unusual diets.

Several studies have shown low levels of selenium may be related to HIV disease progression. Other studies show HIV needs selenium in order to reproduce. Bottom line is that it remains unclear, at least to me, if selenium deficiency is a cause or an effect of HIV disease progression, and if supplements will help or hurt.

There is no doubt selenium is essential for proper immune function. The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of selenium is 55 micrograms.

Hope that helps.

Dr. Bob


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