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supplements for HIV?

Jun 21, 2007

Do you recommend particular vitamin/mineral supplementation? I have also read that it's important to take carnitine, ALA and NAC. All these supplements get expensive. What should I definitely be taking? By the way, I'm a 50 year old woman who has been pos for 17 years. My viral load is 12,000 and CD4 is 275. Thank you so much for all the work you do.

Response from Dr. Pierone

There are no specific supplement recommendations for management of HIV infection. It seems reasonable to take a multivitamin tablet and one could make an argument that virtually all adults should consider taking a fish oil or flaxseed oil supplement (for the omega3 benefits). There are some data of the potential benefit of carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid (ALA), and N-acetylcysteine (NAC) to address mitochondrial toxicity from thymidine nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (like Zerit and AZT).

There are supplements which may be useful for medical conditions which may also occur in the context of HIV infection. Examples would include glucosamine for joint pain, saw palmetto for prostate enlargement, and red rice yeast for hyperlipidemia. There are also potential supplement-drug interactions which need to be considered as well. Red rice yeast is a natural form of lovastatin in its use in conjunction with ritonavir (Norvir) could result in toxic levels of this agent.

Thanks for posting in the best of luck to you!

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