Vitamin D may speed TB recovery times

A study led by Dr. Adrian Martineau at the Center for Health Sciences at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry has shown that supplementing tuberculosis antibiotics with vitamin D can speed recovery times.

The research included 146 patients with drug-sensitive TB who were given four oral doses of either 2.5 milligrams of vitamin D or a placebo during antibiotic treatment. Those who received the standard therapy alone recovered in six weeks. The group taking vitamin D recovered in five weeks, E Science News reports.

The study noted that 122 out of 126 patients had inadequate levels of vitamin D at the beginning of the study and that vitamin D deficiency is a common issue in those with TB. Patients who had a particular genetic type of vitamin D receptor were much more responsive than others to vitamin D supplementation.

"Vitamin D is best known for its effects on bones – it prevents rickets and oseomalacia – but it also had important effects on the immune system," Dr. Adrian Martineau, the study's lead researchers said, according to E Science News. "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."