Dietary supplements could improve survival in people suffering from AIDS causing HIV, say three new studies.

Nutritional supplementation with vitamin and mineral antioxidants was associated with longer survival, less immune failure, and better mitochondrial function in CD4+ cells found three studies, according Marianna K. Baum, PhD, a professor of dietetics and nutrition at Florida International University in Miami, who participated in all three investigations.

The studies were conducted in the U.S. and Botswana. The first study investigated the effect of zinc supplementation on the prevention of immune failure in 40 HIV-positive adults on antiretroviral therapy (ART).

After 18 months of zinc supplementation, the researchers found that none of the patients treated with zinc experienced immune failure, while four patients who were not, suffered immune failure.

Zinc supplementation is safe and might prevent immunologic failure in HIV-positive patients on stable ART, Dr. Baum and her co-authors concluded.

Supplements including vitamins C, E, and B complex, selenium, N-acetyl cysteine, and alpha-lipoic acid, as well as zinc, were tested in the second study involving 12 patients.

An analysis of data after eight weeks found patients receiving the antioxidants had increased CD4, CD4/CD8 ratio and activity of complex IV, an enzyme involved in oxidative phosphorylation - suggesting decreased mitochondrial damage.

The third and the largest study in Botswana compared supplementation with vitamins C, E, and B complex plus selenium with multivitamins alone, selenium alone, and placebo in 875 HIV-positive adults.

This simple micronutrient supplementation was safe, improved CD4 count, and prolonged the time to AIDS-defining conditions, Dr. Baum said while presenting the findings at AIDS 2010: XVIII International AIDS Conference.