Essential Minerals for HIV+ PeopleNelson Vergel
From the book “Built to Survive (click here)
Calcium – 300 mg
or more three times per day. Take for strong bones, nerve health, and muscle
growth itself. Calcium and magnesium are nutrients that
Dr. Jon Kaiser recommends to prevent
and treat neuropathy. Optimal calcium intake improves insulin sensitivity,[i] so
calcium is another nutrient that might help reduce some lipodystrophy symptoms.
Calcium carbonate (not citrate) supplementation at 500 mg twice daily can
reduce protease inhibitor-induced
Magnesium – 200 mg
or more three times per day. Necessary for bone, heart and nerve health, and
muscle growth and strength. Also involved in healthy insulin metabolism, so
magnesium supplementation may
reduce the potential for some lipodystrophy symptoms.
Zinc – 10 to 30
mg three times per day. Improves healing and immune function. One poorly
designed questionnaire-based study suggested that having too much zinc might decrease survival in HIV.[iii] Other studies show; there is a
correlation with low zinc status and an increase in bacterial infec-tions[iv]high
dose zinc supplementation (200 mg per day) can reduce the incidence of the
deadly lung infection called pneumocystis and candida infections, and cause an increase in CD4 T cells and body weight;291
and that low zinc status in HIV is
associated with increased risk of death.24 While there is an upper
limit to how much zinc is safe (it can interfere with selenium’s
beneficial antitumor and antiviral effects), after communicating with leading
zinc researchers, I find that the potential safe upper dose limit for short
term use appears to be approximately 150 mg per day. Zinc is required for
healthy testosterone production,[v] and
IGF-1 production[vi] Zinc can inhibit the activity of several of
the herpes viruses,[vii]
and there appears to be an association between herpes and immune destruction in
HIV.283 High dose zinc has been shown to significantly
reduce cold symptoms.[viii] (To
fight herpes outbreaks and colds I take high dose zinc or use zinc acetate
lozenges myself with great success. I always add 2 mg of copper per 50 mg of zinc because copper is required
with zinc in the manufacture of a super oxide dismutase, which are important
antioxidants that are made in the body.) Zinc is best taken alone before
bedtime for optimal absorption. Nutrition
expert Dr. Richard Beach at the University of Miami says that many HIV(+)
people need 75 or more mg of zinc per day, and Dr. Baum’s study, as cited
earlier, indicated 90 mg per day was needed to get adequate blood levels for
many HIV(+) people
would not suggest overloading with zinc,
poor zinc absorption and increased need for zinc by HIV(+) people makes an
optimal level of zinc supplementation very important. (Note: an overload is not
well defined, and is very individual.) If a person is ill or is highly
progressed, it is possible that they will need as much as 90 to 200 mg of zinc
per day. High-dose zinc is generally only advisable for short periods of time,
though, and for specific reasons. Ask your doctor or a certified nutritionist
or registered dietitian if you think you might need high doses of zinc, and
show them this information because they may not be aware of it. Symptoms of
zinc deficiency are poor sense of smell and taste, slow healing, poor quality
skin and hair, and low neutrophil counts.
Selenium – 100 to
200 mcg three times per day. Works with vitamin E, and helps in the generation
of glutathione, the body’s critically important natural antioxidant. One HIV
study found correlations between CD4 T-cell counts, selenium levels, and glutathione levels.[ix] In a study of 125 HIV-infected men and
women, Dr. Marianna Baum found that patients with selenium deficiency were 19.9
times more likely to die of AIDS than patients with adequate selenium levels.[x]
She theorizes that the link between selenium and mortality is due to
selenium’s antioxidant function or action in gene regulation that might
actually affect the replication of HIV itself. “In selenium deficiency the HIV virus reproduces faster,”
Copper – 2 mg.
Necessary for healing, and helps form super oxide dismutase (SOD), an important
antioxidant enzyme in the body. If you are taking high dose zinc (more than 40 mg per day) you may need to take
more than 2 mg of copper, as high dose zinc can induce a copper deficiency. Copper
is critical to immune health and antioxidant production in the body. Ask your
doctor to test for zinc and copper deficiencies.
Chromium – 300 mcg
three times per day. Chromium supplementation improved insulin sensitivity 40
percent in a study with diabetics without toxicity at 1000 mcg per day,[xi] so
chromium is another nutrient
that might help reduce some lipodystrophy symptoms. (Chromium’s potentially
toxic dose is considered to be about 70,000 mcg per day according to the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency.)
Iron – 18 to 50
mg. A 6-year University of California at Berkeley study showed that iron intake was highly
correlative with reducing progression of HIV to full-blown AIDS, and 54 mg
per day from food and supplements appeared to be about twice as good as 36 mg
to reduce HIV progression.308 Iron is
poorly absorbed in general, so supplementation can be very important for people
who are anemic and suffer from low energy. Iron is necessary for the production
of carnitine in the body, the
health of the red blood cells, immune health, the body’s ability to fight
bacteria, and energy production.
activity in the body is under control because there is an abundance of
antioxidants, like Vitamin E and Beta Carotene that are derived from a healthy
diet and/or dietary supplements. Optimal iron status is required for overall
health in early HIV, however, there is a potential for iron overload in HIV,
especially in the more advanced stages,[xii] or
when antioxidant status in the body is compromised, or when there is insulin resistance.[xiii] Iron
overload can increase the potential for immune problems and increased
infections, so it is advisable to ask your doctor to test and monitor body stores of iron by testing serum ferritin
in blood tests.
method of testing iron stores in the body
may not accurately reflect excess iron stored in the liver, heart, bone marrow,
etc., according to Sharon McDonnell, MD, MPH, of the Centers for Disease
Control. She says that testing for transferrin
saturation provides a more accurate indication of this kind of stored iron,
especially if it is elevated in more than one test.
those of you who do include iron in their daily
supplementation, there is one form of iron that is considered to be basically
nontoxic, even at doses in the thousands of milligrams. This form is called iron carbonyl,[xiv] and it
is the form of iron contained in the SuperNutrition and the AMNI vitamin formulas.
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