Hepatitis C: Diet and Vitamins


Topic: Hepatitis C, June 2000

Dr. Lee:
What is your advice regarding diet, vitamins, or maybe use of herbs, such as Milk Thistle?

Dr. Edward Block:
It is important to avoid alcohol if you have hepatitis C. Firstly, hepatitis C patients who have had excessive alcohol use over the years tend to develop greater liver damage than patients who don't drink alcohol. Secondly, alcohol use impairs response to treatment.

Does that mean that hepatitis C patients can never have a drink? Well, on special holidays or occasions, I think it is OK to have one or two drinks. But in general, the best advice would be to avoid alcohol completely if you have hepatitis C or while you are undergoing treatment for HCV.

Dr. Lee:
Or even for somebody who elected not to undergo treatment for Hepatitis C, that person should stay away from alcohol.

Dr. Edward Block:
There is no question that continued alcohol drinking will accelerate the development of late complications, including cirrhosis and liver failure.

Other than stopping alcohol, there is really no specific diet recommendations for hepatitis C patients. I recommend a sensible and balanced diet.

Folic acid may be good for cell renewal. I tell my patients to take a daily multivitamin that contains folic acid.

In regard to Milk Thistle (a naturally occurring antioxidant), I am not aware of any controlled scientific trials that demonstrate that Milk Thistle is effective in treating hepatitis C.

Nutritional supplements taken in moderation is probably OK. Although certain supplements can be liver toxic. Viewers should be at least cautious that they do not take anything that may be potentially harmful. So discuss nutritional supplement use with your doctor.

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