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Iron supplement for anemia
Aug 31, 2000

I was diagnosed HIV positive approx. 2 yrs ago. I take combivir and viramune. I have been undetectable since 8 weeks on the meds and t-cells range from 500 - 800. I have also been borderline anemic most of this time. My doctor has indicated the prescription medicines for anemia will not be of much benefit to me because I am in the normal range - but at the very bottom. In doing some research about vitamin supplementation to try and correct this problem, I think I read somewhere that it may help to take an iron supplement separate from certain vitamins or minerals because they may inhibit the absorption of the iron. Are there vitamins and minerals which may inhibit the absorption or am I remembering the information incorrectly? Also, what other vitamin or mineral supplementation may help correct the borderline anemia? One final question - what form of iron is best - sulfate, gluconate, etc? Thanks for your help. Keith

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi Keith,

Check your lab slips to see exactly what your doctor means by "borderline anemia." It might also be worthwhile checking some of your previous lab reports over the past 2 years that you've been on antiretroviral therapy. Combivir contains AZT, which is well known to cause suppression of red blood cell production. Check to see if your hemoglobin levels have been slowly declining since beginning therapy. The low range of normal for men is 13 g/dL. If you're hemoglobin is 11 or less, therapy should be considered. Supplementing your diet with iron other minerals or vitamins will only be beneficial if you are deficient in one or more of these micronutrients. Your physician can run a simple blood test to check your levels. Iron supplements come in a variety of forms -- gluconates, sulfates, fumarates, etc. They all work fine. The sulfate formulations are most prevalent. Vitamins are either fat or water-soluble. Dietary restrictions -- if any -- will be clearly indicated on the bottle or prescription. Again, the important point here is that you should only consider supplementation if you are documented to be deficient in one or more of these vitamins or minerals. I hope this clarifies the situation. Good luck.

RJF


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