According to a new US study, supplements with B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E and selenium may delay disease progression in the early stage of HIV in patients.
The randomized controlled trial measured markers of disease progression (T-helper cell count, viral load) in blood samples of 878 adult patients with early stage human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection (not receiving antiretroviral therapy, ART) who received either a daily supplement of multivitamins alone (20 mg vitamin B1, 20 mg vitamin B2, 100 mg vitamin B3, 25 mg vitamin B6, 800 µg vitamin B9, 50 µg vitamin B12, 500 mg vitamin C and 30 mg vitamin E), selenium (200 µg) alone, a combination of the multivitamins plus selenium, or placebo for 24 months (1). The study results showed that the supplementation with multi- vitamins and selenium significantly reduced the risk of immune decline and an AIDS-related death of the patients.
The researchers commented that micronutrient deficiencies, known to influence immune function, are pre- valent even before the development of symptoms of HIV disease and are associated with accelerated HIV disease progression. Thus, micronutrient supplementation may be effective and safe in postponing illness in newly diagnosed HIV patients. Using inexpensive supplements early in treatment could help reduce the cost of care and HIV medicines (antiretroviral drugs), particularly in poor countries by delaying when patients would need the drugs. While the results indicate that supplementation seems to be helpful in patients who are not on treatment, future studies should investigate if multivitamins could also be a useful adjunct when people are on medical treatment. B vitamins, vitamins C and E, and selenium are known to support a healthy immune system while selenium may also play a role in preventing HIV replication (2, 3).