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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