Key nutrients halve AIDS risk

Multivitamins including vitamin C and selenium halve rate of progression from HIV positive to AIDS in a new study.

Despite good evidence for specific nutrients helping slow down HIV progression to AIDS, few studies have been done into the early stages of HIV.

Today, a well designed study in Botswana, is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showing a highly positive effect for multivitamins and selenium given in the early stages of HIV infection.

The main measure of progression of the infection is the decrease in immune T-cell (or CD4 cell) count, indicating suppressed immunity, plus the development of symptoms. A CD4 cell count of 500 to 1000/µl is considered normal. Anti-Retro Viral drug therapy (ARVs) is recommended when CD4 cell count goes below 350µl.

This trial involved 872 people identified as HIV positive, not on ARV drugs. They were either given placebo or a multivitamin, a selenium supplement or both. The effective treatment was the multivitamin plus selenium combined so I’m going to focus on this.

The multivitamin provided 500mg of vitamin C, plus reasonable amounts of B vitamins (thiamin, 20mg; riboflavin, 20mg; niacin, 100mg; vitamin B6, 25mg; vitamin B12, 50μg; folic acid,800 μg) and a little vitamin E (30 mg). The selenium supplement provided 200mcg.

After 2 years the multi plus selenium combination had significantly reduced the decline in CD4 cell count to both a level of 350µl and 250µl, and also the combined outcome of ‘less AIDS-defining conditions or AIDS death’. Roughly averaging, the effect of taking a daily multivitamin plus selenium halved the risk of CD4 cell count dropping below 350µl or developing AIDS-defining symptoms or dying.

I have written extensively about the promising role of very high dose vitamin C in my Special Report . Also, there is a known role for the potent antioxidant and precursor for glutathione, N-acetyl cysteine, or NAC as it is known. I would be supplementing at least 2 grams of this a day if I was HIV positive.

An aggressive nutritional approach to HIV infection would be the combination of a multivitamin, selenium 200mcg, high dose vitamin C up to bowel tolerance and NAC. This kind of strategy is most likely to significantly delay or prevent the development of symptoms and a falling CD4 cell count.

For more on boosting your immune system read Boost Your Immune System.