May 25, 2010

May 25, 2010
More Dietary Supplements for People Living With HIV/AIDS

Welcome to another day of my life. Today is Tuesday and Dab the AIDS Bear will be at the Rally in Columbia, South Carolina where their elected officials are trying to eliminate all HIV/AIDS funding. There will be coverage in my blog tomorrow about the event.

But for today, I would like to continue the blog from yesterday about nutritional supplement needs for people with HIV and AIDS.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)

* What It Does: Found in the mitochondria, CoQ10 is involved in the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the major source of energy for cells and drives many biological processes. It also acts as an antioxidant, and animal studies have suggested it may be an immune booster.

* What CoQ10 Deficiency Can Cause: It is not clear. Research to date has taught us more about how increasing CoQ10 levels might help people (namely by increasing energy levels and boosting the immune system) rather than how low CoQ10 levels might hurt people.

* People at Higher Risk for CoQ10 Deficiency: older people, people who use statins to lower their cholesterol, people with HIV and other chronic conditions (e.g., heart conditions, muscular dystrophies, Parkinson's disease, cancer and diabetes)

* Types of CoQ10 Supplements: CoQ10 supplements are available in a range of different forms taken by mouth, including capsules, tablets, sprays and pills that dissolve under the tongue.

* How Much Is Needed: There is no US RDA.

* Foods in Which It is Most Commonly Found: meats, poultry, fish, soybean and canola oil, some nuts and seeds

Vitamin B12

* What It Does: B vitamins (including B12) regulate the body's metabolic processes, which include producing energy, regulating the heart and maintaining healthy nerve cells.

* What B12 Deficiency Can Cause: diarrhea, fatigue, lack of concentration, neurological damage (in extreme cases), peripheral neuropathy, some types of anemia

* People at Higher Risk for B12 Deficiency: people over 50, vegetarians, people with gastrointestinal problems

* Types of B12 Supplements: B12 is often found as part of a B complex vitamin that includes other B vitamins. It is available as a dietary supplement in pill form or as a lozenge. It is also available by prescription as a nasal spray or an injection.

* How Much Is Needed: U.S. RDA is 2.4 mcg (micrograms) for people over the age of 13 (more if you are pregnant or lactating).

* Foods in Which It is Most Commonly Found: meats (especially beef and other red meats), fish, clams, milk, cheese, eggs


* What It Does: Zinc helps to produce testosterone and preserves sexual function, both of which can often be a concern for men living with HIV.

* What Zinc Deficiency Can Cause: diarrhea, immune system damage

* People at Higher Risk for Zinc Deficiency: heavy alcohol drinkers, people with gastrointestinal or digestive problems, pregnant/lactating women, vegetarians

* Types of Zinc Supplements: Zinc supplements are generally taken in pill form, although a number of over the counter medications (especially cold remedies) contain zinc, as do some throat lozenges, nasal sprays and gels caveat: there have been some reports of people losing their sense of smell by taking zinc supplements through their nose. Also, note that the more zinc you take, the lower your body's levels of copper (which is necessary for proper immune function) tend to become. That is why zinc supplements often contain copper as well.

* How Much Is Needed: US RDA is 11 mg for men over the age of 18 and 8 mg for women over the age of 18 (more if you are pregnant or lactating).

* Foods in Which It is Most Commonly Found: shellfish, meats, dairy products, some beans, nuts

Multivitamins: The All in One Solution

A daily, complete multivitamin pill can serve as a good source for many of the nutrients listed above, as well as a number of others. There are also indications that multivitamins help delay the progression of HIV disease, as found in a long term, randomized trial that was conducted in Tanzania, Africa.

However, figuring out which multivitamin to use can be a dizzying experience. There are a large number of different multivitamin pills sold by different companies, all of which contain different dosages of a wide range of nutrients. You may be best off speaking with your doctor or nutritionist to first learn more about what nutrient deficiencies you may have; then you can compare multivitamins to see which is likely to fill your needs best.

Always remember to talk with your health care provider and/or a nutritionist who specializes in HIV and AIDS patients before starting any program.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope, happiness and just enough.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab