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Making Sense of Supplements

A Video Blog

By Nelson Vergel

December 18, 2012

The world of nutritional supplements is a confusing one, with thousands of claims that are not supported with clinical studies, or are based on research done in rats. There is no FDA oversight of these claims, and quality control audits of this industry are infrequent. However, the FDA is known for sending warnings about supplements that have been reported to cause health concerns, or with unapproved ingredients found in random testing.

Research on supplementation in HIV slowed down considerably when effective antiretrovirals with better side effect profiles were approved. However, there are still certain quality-of-life and metabolic issues that many of those of us living with HIV try to manage not only with prescribed medications but also with over-the-counter supplements. But which ones are worth the expense due to positive studies in HIV?

In my search for trustworthy data on different supplements to improve the effects of HIV and its medications on my body and health, I have found a few supplements that have some data in HIV and health. Some are aimed at improved stamina, gut health, lean body mass, bone health, cholesterol/triglyceride levels and mood.

In this short video, I review some of supplements that I personally use after reviewing available research studies (most done in HIV-positive patients). Keep in mind that the mentioned brands are just examples and not in any way an endorsement for those companies. No funding was received from any company to make this short video. For a good website to explore supplement companies whose products have been tested by a third party, visit

Discuss any use of supplements with your physician before starting them. Most of the supplement ingredients discussed have been studied in HIV without adverse effects on CD4 cell count and HIV viral load. But keep in mind that drug-supplement interaction studies are limited in HIV.

If you have any questions, you can send them to me via my Ask the Experts forum on Nutrition, Exercise and HIV.

For other sources of information on supplementation in HIV, read:

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See Also
An Introduction to Dietary Supplements for People Living With HIV/AIDS
Ask a Question About Diet or Nutrition at's "Ask the Experts" Forums
More on Supplements and HIV/AIDS


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Outsmarting HIV: A Survivor's Perspective

Nelson Vergel is a chemical engineer who has become a leading advocate for sports nutrition, supplementation and the promotion of wellness in the HIV-positive community since his positive diagnosis in 1986. He is also the author of "Testosterone: A Man's Guide" and co-author of the book "Built to Survive"; the founder of the nonprofit organizations Body Positive Wellness Clinic and Program for Wellness Restoration; the Nutrition and Exercise forum expert at; and a bilingual speaker on lipodystrophy, wasting, exercise, nutrition, testosterone replacement, metabolic disorders, HIV medication side effect management and HIV salvage therapy. Nelson also moderates PozHealth, one of the largest HIV health discussion listservs online.

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Recent Posts:

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