Vitamin and Mineral Supplementation in Thalassemia

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I am often asked what supplements should patients be taking. I would like to remind everyone that I am not a professional, but that over the past thirty years I have done much research into health and nutrition on my own and in recent years have and continue to research specifically what is recommended for thals.
These are basic recommendations for adults. Keep in mind that lower doses are most often recommended for children.
I have included links to some of our previous discussions about supplements.
Vitamin E  400 iu.  Natural source preferred. d-alpha tocopherol (not dl-alpha). If possible, use mixed tocopherols. (Vitamin E is a blood thinner, which is a good thing for most people. However, if you are taking a blood thinner such as warfarin or coumadin, tell your doctor you are taking vitamin E as your dosage of the blood thinning drug may need to be adjusted downward).
Folic Acid 1000-10,000 mcg (micrograms). 1000 = 1 mg This is recommended for all thal patients.
B-Complex. The B vitamins help protect the body against stress and are important for many basic functions. B vitamins are water soluble and do not last long in the body. It is important to replace them on a regular (daily) basis. Adequate amounts of vitamin B-12 are essential. B-12, as all B vitamins is water soluble and amounts ranging from 100-1500 mcg daily are advised.
Calcium  1000-1500 mg plus 500-1000 mg magnesium plus Vitamin D 1000-5000 iu ( all work together to maintain bone growth and heart function). Calcium taken alone is inadequate and can also lead to problems affecting the heart. It must be balanced with magnesium, as they work together in the heart beat, and an imbalance can lead to heart palpitations. Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption of calcium.

Zinc 15-50 mg
Vitamin C 100-250 mg taken with desferal (helps more iron to be excreted). Do NOT take more than 250 mg daily if thal. Too much iron can be freed into the bloodstream where it can cause clumping in the heart, causing lowered heart function. Vitamin C has not been studied with other chelators so it's combination effect is not known. Do we have any members on kelfer or ferriprox who can tell us their own experience using Vitamin C?

IP6 (phytic acid) is a natural iron chelator and a member of the B family. IP6 is a powerful antioxidant, and patients using it have showed both some reduction in ferritin levels and also improvements in general health.
Iron should not be used by thallasemics as it can lead to iron overload.
A previous discussion of what group members use is at
Please feel free to share what supplements you are taking. There may be other things that you find essential.
In addition to basic supplements, many members are also using wheatgrass in juice, pill or extract form and some are also using other nutritional supplements that do seem to give them more energy. I would like to encourage all members to share their experiences and tell us what has worked for them. This is so important. People need to know what they can do to better the quality of their lives.

Can someone explain why Vitamin E is important for a thal Intermedia?

Vitamin E is one of the most important nutrients that need to be supplemented in thalassemia. The iron overload that exists in major and intermedia causes tremendous oxidative stress to the cells and anti-oxidants can prevent oxidative stress from occurring. 



Paradoxically, oxygen is essential for life but is also lethal! This is because normal oxygen molecules can convert into different chemical forms known as “free radicals.” When the activity of free radicals is harnessed and controlled, they have important uses in the body. Uncontrolled free radicals, however, can do great damage and lead to disease.

Antioxidants are important in any diet, because as their name suggests, they prevent oxidative damage in the body. In doing so, they play an important role in the prevention of diseases such as coronary heart disease and cancer.

In thalassemia, because of the excess iron in the body, there is a higher risk of oxidative damage...Vitamin E is the most important dietary antioxidant. Several studies have found that many thalassemics have lower levels of vitamin E in their blood compared to non-thalassemics. This could be either because thalassemics do not take as much vitamin E in their diet or because their needs are higher. In many studies, when vitamin E was given as a supplement, vitamin E levels in the blood improved.

And specifically about intermedia, from


Fifteen beta-thalassemia intermedia patients, not requiring chronic transfusional therapy, were monitored in order to check their antioxidant status, and the lipid oxidation products in plasma, LDL, and erythrocytes before and during a 9-month oral treatment with 600 mg/day vitamin E. The low level of vitamin E, and high level of malondialdehyde in plasma clearly tended to normalize after three months (P < .001), and were quite similar to control after six months. The abnormally low level of vitamin E in LDL and the four times higher than control basal level of conjugated dienes (LDL-CD), were not modified after three months of treatment. Significant changes of LDL-VE (P < .05) and of the basal LDL-CD (P < .001) were evident after six months. LDL-VE was within the normal range after nine months, whereas LDL-CD still appeared twice as higher than control. Plasma vitamin A, ascorbate, beta-carotene, and lycopene increased markedly at the end of the trial (P < .005). The level of vitamin E in red blood cells was normalized after six months of supplementation. A decrease of the baseline value of conjugated dienes was observed after nine months, although it remained 1.4-fold higher than control. The RBC count and hematocrit appeared higher at the end of the trial (P < .05 and P < .001, respectively). The hemoglobin value did not show variations. A shift to normal of the resistance of erythrocytes to osmotic lysis was observed. Our findings provide evidence that an oral treatment with vitamin E improves the antioxidant/oxidant balance in plasma, LDL particles, and red blood cells, and counteracts lipid peroxidation processes in beta-thalassemia intermedia patients.

Osteoporosis is a serious problem in thalassemia that is becoming even more prevalent as the thal population ages. Since osteo is also a major problem in the non-thal population, there are many studies done on prevention and reversal of bone loss. Several studies were summarized by Jean Carper in her column in the USA Weekend magazine,April 2, 2006. 



Bones weaken and fractures soar with age. Today, about 10 million Americans have osteoporosis (brittle bones), and another 34 million have osteopenia (low bone mass).
Potassium-packed fruit can help bones

Here's the latest research on how to keep bones strong:

Don't count on calcium alone. New research finds vitamin D as important. In fact, a daily 700 IU to 800 IU of D cuts hip fracture risk 26%, say Harvard investigators. Most women should take 500mg to 800mg calcium and 600 IU vitamin D each day.

Beware animal fat. Eating high amounts of saturated fat in meat and dairy can weaken bones, finds a new Penn State study. In men under age 50, those who ate the most saturated fat had 4% less bone mineral density than men who ate the least.

Eat fruits, vegetables. One reason: They're packed with potassium, which slows excretion of calcium. In animals, dried plums (prunes) even reversed bone loss.

Cut salt. In women with a typical American diet, cutting back to 2,000mg sodium a day reduced their calcium and bone loss, says a University of Tennessee study.

Get B vitamins. Low B12 levels in the blood signal lower bone mineral density in men's hips and women's spines, says recent Tufts University research. In Japanese research, high daily doses of B12 (1,500mcg) and folic acid (5mg) cut hip fractures 80% in stroke patients.

Limit colas and candy. Higher consumption of these is linked to greater bone loss.

Sources for this article

Vitamin D and bones Steingrimsdottir L, JAMA. 2005 294:2336-41.
Bischoff-Ferrari HA, JAMA. 2005 May 11;293(18):2257-64.
Saturated fat and bones
Corwin RL, J Nutr. 2006 Jan;136(1):159-65.
Fruits and vegetables and bones
Macdonald HM, Am J Clin Nutr. 2005 Apr;81(4):923-33.
Deyhim F, Menopause. 2005 Nov-Dec; 12(6): 755-62.
Salt and bones
Carbone LD, J Bone Miner Metab. 2005;23(6):506-13.
B vitamins and bones
Tucker KL, J Bone Miner Res. 2005 Jan;20(1):152-8.
Sato Y, JAMA. 2005 Mar 2;293(9):1082-8.
Colas, candy and bones
Tucker, KL. Curr Pharm Des. 2003;9(32):2687-704.

Jean Carper's Stop Aging Now! Copyright 2001-2006. All rights reserved.


Great article and I am sure it is very helpful for those looking for keeping their health in a better shape.

Could you be specific and tell what is recommended for Thal(Minor)'s?



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