Are There Vitamins a Person With Hepatitis C Should Take


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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Online

Are There Vitamins a Person With Hepatitis C Should Take?
May 6, 1998

The question: Are there vitamins that a person with hepatitis C should take, and are there vitamins that should not be taken?

Paul G. Auwaerter, M.D., responds: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the leading infectious cause of hepatitis and cirrhosis in the United States. Of individuals infected with HCV, as many as 20 percent of individuals can have problems, including chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver cancer or immune abnormalities.

Vitamins are not known to assist with control or treatment of HCV, although severe nutritional deficiencies (such as those seen in alcoholic populations) can cause additional problems with HCV and liver disease. If HCV has injured the liver enough to affect its metabolic abilities such as that seen in early cirrhosis, then some vitamins should be used very carefully.

Fat soluble vitamins (especially vitamins A, D and E) can accumulate in the liver, and if taken in "megadose" quantities may damage even normal livers. Vitamin A is perhaps the most toxic of this group with accidental overdosages causing fulminant liver failure. For this reason, no more than standard recommended daily allowances (RDA's) of vitamins A, D and E are suggested for those with liver disease, regardless of the cause.

Paul G. Auwaerter, M.D., is an assistant professor in The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, with appointments in the divisions of internal medicine and infectious diseases. His research interests include virology and immunology, as well as the study of community-acquired pneumonia.

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