Nutrient Supplementation for HIV

Professionals usually advise people with HIV to take multiple vitamin/mineral supplements that supplies the basic level of nutrients most important to body function. Because of the serious deficiencies and the increased need off a number of nutrients, many nutritionists believe that it is necessary to take additional supplements, both to increase dosage levels and to include nutrients not usually found in multiple supplements. These include higher levels of antioxidants (vitamin E, beta-carotene, vitamin C, selenium, coenzym Q10, n-acetyl-cystein or NAC), essential fatty acid (GLA and EPA), B12 in the form of either a nasal gel or an injection (to bypass uptake problems), and carnitine (critical for fat metabolism).

Daily usage of acidophilus can help prevent intestinal imbalance, ward off fungal overgrowth problems, and keep the body well supplied with nutrients and digestive enzymes or hydrochloric acid supplements may also be helpful if there are signs of maldigestion (however, individuals with gastric or peptic ulcers may worsen their condition and should consult with their physician before using them).

Many people with HIV have lowered levels of hydrochloric acid in their stomach (preventing proper breakdown of proteins and fats and proper absorption of nutrients) and/or have some level of pancreatic dysfunction (resulting in lowered levels of enzymes needed for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients). Other additions based on symptoms and the advice of an HIV-knowledgeable nutritionist may also be desirable.

Maintaining a good supplementation program helps prevent deficiencies and prevents the loss of immune function. In addition, many symptoms that result from deficiencies can often be eliminated with and appropriate supplement program. Often people are told that they “will just have to live with” various HIV-related symptoms when, in fact, many are resolvable. Symptoms that may be related to nutrient deficiencies and may be reversible with appropriate supplementation include serious fatigue, memory loss or other cognitive dysfunction, skin problems (HIV rash), neuropathy, weight loss, loss of the senses of smell or taste, appetite loss, muscle pain or cramps, digestive problems, night blindness, canker sores, constipation, depression, anxiety, menstrual cramps, and menopausal problems.

Many other symptoms in people living with HIV may be related to nutrient deficiencies, some of which are listed below. For some people, only one of the nutrient deficiencies listed here may be the sole cause of a given symptom. More often, the source of the problem is the presence of simultaneous deficiencies. Certain patterns of symptoms may provide the best indication of your most likely deficiencies. For example, if both fatigue and memory loss occur, it would be more likely that a B12 deficiency might be the problem. If skin problems occur in combination with increasing night blindness and distortions in the sense of taste, zinc should be high on the list of probable deficiencies.