Ask the Doc :: HIV and vitamins
Dear Doctor Jason,
I have had HIV for just a few months, and I’m wondering whether any vitamins or supplements can help keep me healthy. I’m on Atripla and my VL is undetectable at this point. What can I take that won’t interfere with my HIV regimen?
Signed, Staying healthy
Doctor Jason’s Response:
Keeping a healthy nutritious diet tends to be sufficient for providing the necessary vitmains and nutrients for everyone, HIV-infected or not.
Supplementation often is not harmful, and there are certain supplements which help bolster the immune system, such as vitamins A, C, E, and the minerals zinc, selenium, and magnesium. There are other supplements, however, that can be detrimental as they can negatively interact with certain medications. St. John’s Wort, often used as a natural treatment for depression, has significant negative interactions with many HIV medications, and it is therefore NOT recommended to be used. Grapefruit juice, although a very good source of vitamins, can also be detrimental as it can inhibit the liver breakdown of other medications, thereby increasing their toxicities. Mega-dosing, i.e. taking a very high dose of vitamins, can be harmful, depending on the vitamin.
As a reminder, any new supplements should be discussed with your doctor prior to taking them.
Dr. Faulhaber is a graduate of Tulane University in Psychology and Cellular and Molecular Biology and received his medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. He performed his residency training in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, where he then served as a Chief Resident in Internal Medicine. He completed his fellowship in Infectious Diseases at New York University, where he specialized in HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, and fungal infections. Since fellowship, he has been working as an Internal Medicine/Infectious Diseases physician at Fenway Community Health in Boston. He is a Clinical Instructor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and he is affiliated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He has been the lead author or co-author of several journal articles and textbook chapters on infections with HIV, other viruses, bacteria, and fungi. He is also accredited by the American Academy of HIV Medicine.
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