A Project of the New Mexico AIDS Education and Training Center. Partially funded by the National Library of Medicine
Fact Sheets can be downloaded from the Internet at http://www.aidsinfonet.org
AIDS InfoNet www.aidsinfonet.org
Fact Sheet Number 801
VITAMINS & MINERALS
WHY ARE VITAMINS AND
Vitamins and minerals are sometimes
called micronutrients. Our bodies need
them, in small amounts, to support the
chemical reactions our cells need to live.
Different nutrients affect digestion, the
nervous system, thinking, and other body
Micronutrients can be found in many
foods. Healthy people might be able to
get enough vitamins and minerals from
their food. People with HIV or another
illness need more micronutrients to help
repair and heal cells. Also, many
medications can create shortages of
WHAT ARE ANTIOXIDANTS?
Some molecules in the body are in a form
called oxidized. These molecules are
also called free radicals. They react very
easily with other molecules, and can
damage cells. High levels of free radicals
seem to cause a lot of the damage
associated with aging.
Free radicals are produced as part of
normal body chemistry. Antioxidants are
molecules that can stop free radicals from
reacting with other molecules. This limits
the damage they do. Several nutrients
Antioxidants are important for people with
HIV, because HIV infection leads to
higher levels of free radicals. Also, free
radicals can increase the activity of HIV.
Higher levels of antioxidants can slow
down the virus and help repair some of
the damage it does.
HOW MUCH DO I NEED?
You might think that all you have to do to
get enough vitamins and minerals is to
take a “one-a-day” multivitamin pill.
Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. The
amounts of micronutrients in many of
(RDAs) set by the US government. The
problem with t