Alternative Vitamin A

Note
Integrative therapies should not replace antiretroviral therapy (ART) in HIV patients. Patients should consult their healthcare providers before taking any herbs or supplements because they may interact with treatment. In particular, patients should not take St. John’s wort because it may interact with HIV treatment.

Unclear or conflicting scientific evidence

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is derived from two sources, retinoids and carotenoids.

  1. Retinoids are found in animal sources (such as the liver, kidney, eggs, and dairy products).
  2. Carotenoids are found in plants like dark or yellow vegetables and carrots.

The role of vitamin A in the prevention, transmission, or treatmentof HIV infection is controversial and not well established. A clear conclusion cannot be formed based on the available scientific research.

  1. Avoid if allergic or hypersensitive to vitamin A. Vitamin A toxicity can occur if taken at high dosages.
  2. Use cautiously with liver disease or alcoholism.
  3. Smokers who consume alcohol and beta-carotene may have an increased risk for lung cancer or heart disease.
  4. Vitamin A appears safe in pregnant women if taken at recommended doses.
  5. Use cautiously if breastfeeding because the benefits or dangers to nursing infants are not clearly established.

Selected References
AIDS.org. www.aids.org. Accessed March 29, 2009.
American Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). www.amfar.org. Accessed March 29, 2009.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). www.cdc.gov. Accessed March 29, 2009.
Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. www.pedaids.org. Accessed March 29, 2009.
Halperin DT, Steiner MJ, Cassell MM, et al. The time has come for common ground on preventing sexual transmission of HIV.Lancet. 2004 Nov 27-Dec 3;364(9449):1913-5.
Loutfy MR, Antoniou T, Shen S, et al. Virologic and immunologic impact and durability of enfuvirtide-based antiretroviraltherapy in HIV-infected treatment-experienced patients in a clinical setting. HIV Clin Trials. 2007 Jan-Feb;8(1):36-44.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAD). www.niaid.nih.gov. Accessed March 29, 2009.
Natural Standard: The Authority on Integrative Medicine. www.naturalstandard.com. Copyright © 2009. Accessed March 29, 2009.
Rigopoulos D, Gregoriou S, Paparizos V, et al. AIDS in pregnancy, part II: Treatment in the era of highly active antiretroviral therapy and management of obstetric, anesthetic, and pediatric issues. Skinmed. 2007 Mar-Apr;6(2):79-84.
The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource. www.thebody.com. Accessed March 29, 2009.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). www.fda.gov. Accessed March 29, 2009.
Vrouenraets SM, Wit FW, van Tongeren J, et al. Efavirenz: a review. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2007 Apr;8(6):851-71.