New research shows that the majority of patients with tuberculosis (TB) have low levels of vitamin D, leading to the possibility that vitamin D supplementation could reinforce current treatments or be used as a preventative measure against tuberculosis. Researchers at the Central Middlesex Hospital in London, led by Dr Vassiliki Bravis, examined the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in an ethnically diverse population in London who had active tuberculosis. Out of 158 patients in the study, only 11 (7%) had adequate vitamin D levels.
Additionally, patients’ vitamin D levels did not vary seasonally as expected, but remained constant throughout the year. It is currently unclear whether these findings represent a contributory factor to TB infection, with people with low vitamin D levels being more likely to contract the disease, or whether tuberculosis infection makes the body process vitamin D in an abnormal way, leading to patients becoming deficient. More research is now needed to establish whether vitamin D could provide a new line of treatment or preventative medicine against tuberculosis.
Researcher Dr Vassiliki Bravis said: “Previous research has shown that high levels of vitamin D can help inhibit tuberculosis infection. Our work shows that, within a London population, the majority of TB patients we treat are vitamin D deficient. Currently, we don’t know whether this vitamin D deficiency is a contributing factor towards them developing the disease or whether tuberculosis infection makes the body process vitamin D in an abnormal way, meaning that sufferers subsequently become vitamin D deficient.
Looking towards the future, we now need to carry out trials to establish whether vitamin D supplementation could be used effectively to either prevent or help treat tuberculosis infection.”
MEDICA.de; Source: Society for Endocrinology