Will Creatine and Glutamine Interfere With My Meds?
I’VE HEARD THAT TAKING THE AMINO ACID glutamine with creatine can have positive effects in people who are HIV-positive. But there doesn’t seem to be much information about these sports supplements and any potential interactions with HAART therapy. Can you shed some light on this? —John, West Hollywood
You’re right. Studies on the role of micronutrient supplementation in people with HIV are ripe for further research, according to Dr. Alice Tang, associate professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, and an expert in the area of supplementation and HIV. A few of these studies have examined glutamine, primarily for its muscle-building effects. To my knowledge, there are no published studies on creatine in people with HIV.
When it comes to sports supplements and their potential interactions with HIV meds, the answer is inconclusive. While no adverse affects have been reported using glutamine, other supplements such as St. John’s Wort, have illustrated the complexity of adding “natural” substances to a HAART regimen. Kathleen Squires, MD, says it’s best to avoid products that have documented interactions and communicate with your doctor about all the supplements you’re using. That way, he/she can take them into account if you develop any side effects or your viral load response is not appropriate
Med interactions aside, the larger question is: “What potential benefits does supplementation with glutamine and creatine have for the person with HIV?” Wasting, (the loss of lean body mass), is a concern for all HIV-positive individuals. Since even a five or 10 percent loss of lean body mass is associated with early mortality and susceptibility to opportunistic infections, products such as Juven (which contains glutamine, taurine and HMB) are useful weapons in your pro-lean body mass arsenal
Every study I’ve encountered demonstrates that glutamine will build and preserve muscle mass. In one double-blind study, participants who took 2 doses of Juven twice daily for eight weeks gained almost six pounds, compared to a loss of almost two pounds by the participants receiving placebo. Glutamine doses of at least 20g/day has also been shown to improve the absorption of nutrients in the lower intestine.
My personal take is: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and supplementing with glutamine is a smart way to keep your lean body mass up. Creatine may also have a place in the mix, but your doctor should be able to help you balance the benefits of these sports supplements with your overall treatment regimen.
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