What vitamins or antioxidants are recommended HIV positive people?
I’ve recently been diagnosed with HIV and am starting to make changes to my diet. I’ve read your very helpful guide to vitamins and minerals on the factsheets page but am still a little confused about exactly what vitamins to use. I’m currently taking a one-a-day multi vitamin but understand that I need a little more than that.
My next appointment isn’t for another 3 months and I wanted to start taking vitamins before then. Please help.
I’m not sure if its significant but my CD4 count is 380.
Thank you for your question.
In general, there is unlikely to be a benefit from taking a multivitamin unless you have a vitamin deficiency. In this case your doctor would recommended the vitamin. When the vitamin or supplement is for a specific use there is likely to be proven evidence of a benefit.
Some people take a multivitamin if their diet is not good, but otherwise vitamin supplements are not usually needed in you have a balanced and nutritious diet.
If you want to do this, then any of the multivitamins in most supermarkets and pharmacies would be okay – and unlikely to do any harm. One recent caution, is that if you are using an integrase inhibitor in your HIV combination, the multivitamin should be taken more than four hour apart from your HIV meds.
It is also good to tell your doctor of any supplements or complementary medicines you are taking. If you are doing this for a specific symptoms, then your doctor may have other options.
Just as with vitamins, there is little evidence to show any benefit from taking an antioxidant, unless this is for a medical reason recommended by your doctor.
There is no evidence to show that vitamins or supplement have any effect on your CD4 count or viral load. When you come to need HIV treatment, ARVs are the only proven way to reduce VL and increase CD4.
The market for vitamin and supplements is part of a multi-billion dollar operation and given the vast profits that are made, it is a concern how little evidence is available for any benefit. When careful studies have been performed the evidence of benefit is not only not found but sometimes harmful results are reported.
Also given the size of this market, there is very little regulation to know whether what it says on the label is actually reflected in the supplements themselves.
Note: This answer was updated in September 2014 from an original question in May 2010.