October 18, 2012
According to a report published in the October 17 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, taking high doses of multivitamin supplements did not lessen the risk of HIV disease progression or fatalities for Tanzanian patients receiving standard medications for suppressing the virus. The daily supplements appeared to be linked to potentially harmful increased levels of a particular liver enzyme. Over the past 15 years, the combination of medications known as highly active antiretroviral therapy, or HAART, has greatly decreased HIV-related disease and fatalities. Previous studies have also shown that high doses of multivitamins may reduce HIV-related illness and death in those not receiving HAART, but the safety and effectiveness of combining the two regimens had not been examined.
In this newly published study, researchers compared effects of high-dose multivitamin supplementation and standard-dose supplementation in Tanzanian HIV patients receiving HAART. The patients received daily doses that contained either high or standard levels of vitamin B complex, vitamin C, and vitamin E. However, the study was halted after a median follow-up of 15 months when evidence was found that the patients receiving high doses of supplements had unhealthily increased levels of the liver enzyme alanine transaminase. According to the researchers, led by Sheila Isanaka of the Harvard School of Public Health, at that point there was no difference in disease progression or death risk between those patients receiving standard or high doses of the multivitamin supplementation.
[Editor's Note JAMA. 2012; 308(15):1535-1544. Doi:10.1001/jama.2012.13083. "Effect of High-Dose vs. Standard-Dose Multivitamin Supplementation at the Initiation of HAART on HIV Disease Progression and Mortality in Tanzania: A Randomized Controlled Trial," Isanaka, S., Mugusi, F., Hawkins, C., Spiegelman, D., Okuma, J., Aboud S., Guerino, C., and Fawzi, W.W.]