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The 8 Most Important Supplements for People on HAART

Summer 1999

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

  1. Multi-Vitamin/Mineral Complex. Avoid "once a day" brands as they often are poorly absorbed. Unless you are a menstruating or pregnant female, or a person with diagnosed iron deficiency, chose an iron-free form. Follow the directions on the package; they should indicate from 3 to 6 a day with meals.

  2. Antioxidant Supplement. Rather than take additional individual antioxidants, look for a combination supplement containing at least 25,000 International Units (IU) of beta carotene, 400 IU of vitamin E, 1,000 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, and 200 micrograms (mcg) of selenium.

  3. Milk Thistle. This helps to protect your liver cells from the stress from synthetic medications. My favorite brand is Enzymatic Therapies. Look for milk thistle bound to phosphatidyl choline, which drives the milk thistle into the liver cells and helps it work better.

  4. L-glutamine. Recommended dosage without doctor's supervision is 1 to 3 grams per day.

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  5. Alpha Lipoic Acid. This has synergistic activity with AZT, helps with neuropathies, and is a strong antioxidant that crosses the blood/brain barrier. Recommended dosage is 100 to 200 mg three times a day with meals.

  6. NAC (N-acetyl cysteine). This has been shown to increase levels of glutathione, a major antioxidant pathway of the body. Increased glutathione levels are predictive of survival. Because protease inhibitors deplete the liver of NAC, recommended dosage is 1,000 to 1,500 mg three times a day with food.

  7. Carnitine. This helps prevent wasting, aids in fatty acid oxidation (may have slight effect in lowering serum triglyceride levels), and helps prevent CD4 and CD8 cell death. Recommended dosage is 2,000 mg daily.

  8. B12 Shots. Studies show that levels of B12 in body fluids are not indicative of tissue stores, and suggest that 10 to 50 percent of HIV-positive individuals are B12 and folate deficient. Deficiency can lead to neuropathy, fatigue, depression, anemia, and rashes. Studies suggest that B12 can inhibit HIV infection in monocytes and lymphocytes. B12 is best absorbed when taken by intramuscular injection (IM), nasally (in a nasal gel), or beneath the tongue (liquid, sublingually). My preference is a 1-cc dose of 1,000 mcg (the concentration of the solution) of hydroxycobalamine or methylcobalamine. Cyanocobalamine did not have the same benefit in recent studies.


A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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This article was provided by Seattle Treatment Education Project. It is a part of the publication STEP Perspective.
 
See Also
An Introduction to Dietary Supplements for People Living With HIV/AIDS
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