Give Your Lungs a Little Sunlight

Vitamin D helps clear up TB infections faster

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Vitamin D, when used as a supplement to antibiotics, can help speed up the treatment of tuberculosis, according to a recent study out of London.

Researchers funded by the British Lung Foundation have discovered how vitamin D boosts immune response and helps in the treatment of tuberculosis, in conjunction with antibiotics. Patients who were undergoing antibiotic treatment for TB and received vitamin D saw TB clearance from their lungs a week earlier. While not a drastic improvement, this statistic was even higher in those with a particularly strong vitamin D receptor.

Vitamin D is found in only a few foods, such as fatty fish and milk, but the skin also naturally makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun. Supplements can also be taken, especially in winter months which do not provide adequate sunlight for its production and also for individuals who have darker skin, are older or obese.

97 percent of the patients already had vitamin D deficiencies, which is a very common problem in TB patients. Patients in the UK were especially at risk, due to the lack of sunshine. Vitamin D has a strong effect on the immune system, and the recent findings on its benefits in TB therapy may pave the way for improved overall treatment and cutting down the time usually taken for recovery.

Tuberculosis is a highly infectious disease that attacks the lungs and if left untreated, kills around half of those infected. It is caused by a bacteria and is easily spread; symptoms include persistent cough (sometimes coughing of blood), fever, night sweats and weight loss.

One third of the world is infected with TB. Nine million new reports pop up every year, and nearly two million die from the disease. However, it is curable and preventable through vaccine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 6, 2011
Last Updated:
January 7, 2011