Health Benefits Of Iron

Iron supplements to treat iron-deficiency anemia ( low levels of red blood cells ) should only be taken if prescribed by your doctor. Iron deficiency anemia is diagnosed by having a low hemoglobin level in the blood. This can be confusing in someone on HAART because some anti-HIV drugs, especially AZT, can cause low hemoglobin levels. There are other blood tests that can help determine whether there really is an iron deficiency. The important point is to not take high doses of iron unless they are prescribed. Iron is a pro-oxidant (the opposite of an antioxidant), which means it can damage different tissues in the body.

Zinc is a critical mineral for the immune system; a deficiency can cause severe immune suppression . People with chronic diarrhoea, new immigrants from refugee people with HIV, especially children, are at high risk of having a deficiency. Be aware that high doses of zinc supplements in people who are not deficient can decrease immune function.

Selenium helps regenerate glutathione , the major antioxidant in cells. Studies have shown that low selenium levels in the blood are associated  with an increased risk of disease progression and death. Deficiency is associated with low CD4+ cells. One small study found that a daily supplement of 200 micrograms might have a positive effect in some people with HIV. Studies of the general population suggest that selenium supplementation may provide some protection from cancer. 

Getting started: Take a multivitamin-mineral once a day.

Multiplying the benefits of multivitamins

  1. Get some advice from a health professional with knowledge about supplements for people with HIV.
  2. Protect your bones by getting enough calcium and vitamin D.
  3. Boost your antioxidant defense system with vitamin E, vitamin C and selenium.
  4. Keep doses below the Upper Tolerable Limit.

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