January 10, 2011

Vitamin D for TB

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Vitamin D may speed up recovery time for patients suffering from tuberculosis (TB), according to a new study.

Researchers looked at 146 patients with drug-sensitive TB and randomly assigned them to receive either four oral doses of 2.5 milligrams of vitamin D or a placebo. All participants also received standard antibiotic treatment.

It took six weeks for the lungs to clear in patients who did not take the vitamin D supplements. It took five weeks for those taking the supplements. Those who had a particular genetic type of vitamin D receptor were much more responsive to the vitamin and cleared their TB bacteria much more quickly if they received vitamin D in addition to antibiotics.

"Vitamin D is best known for its effects on bones -- and prevents rickets and osteomalacia -- but it also has important effects on the immune system," Dr. Adrian Martineau, lead researcher, was quoted as saying. "High dose vitamin D was used to treat TB in the days before antibiotics were available, but clinical trials have not previously been performed to find out how TB patients' genetic make-up can affect their response to vitamin D supplementation. The finding that patients who have a particular type of vitamin D receptor are very responsive to vitamin D is new and gives us insights into how vitamin D can affect the immune response."

According to the researchers, vitamin D deficiency is very common in patients with TB. They say it is possible that TB can cause a vitamin D deficiency by a mechanism that is not yet understood.

SOURCE: The Lancet, January, 2011