News / Health

Studies Reveal Health Benefits of Vitamin D in TB and HIV

Jessica Berman
New research suggests that mega-doses of vitamin D, the so-called “sunshine vitamin,” may help fight both tuberculosis and reduce the risk of death from HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.  

An estimated 1.5 million people die each year of tuberculosis amid concerns that the disease is rapidly becoming drug resistant.  Now, a new study suggests TB treatment could be significantly enhanced with the addition of vitamin D to the regimen.

Researchers at Queen Mary University in London studied 95 tuberculosis patients.  All received the standard antibiotic treatment, but some were given a supplement of a very high dose of Vitamin D, about 10 times the average dose.

Investigators led by Adrian Martineau found that the TB bacterium cleared from those in the vitamin D group in an average of 23 days - approximately two weeks sooner than those on antibiotics alone.

Martineau says vitamin D - the so-called 'sunshine vitamin' - appears to bolster the body’s natural defenses.  

“But a second and interesting effect is that vitamin D also dampens down potentially harmful inflammatory responses in the lung that’s been implicated in lung damage," said Martineau. "So, it also accelerates healing of cavities caused by the TB bug.”

The tuberculosis bacterium causes cavities to form in the lungs in response to inflammation, which is part of the body’s immune response.  The microbe hides in these pockets.  Martineau suggests that reducing inflammation helps heal the cavities more quickly, causing less lung damage and helping patients clear the infection in a shorter period of time.

Before antibiotics, TB patients underwent so-called heliotherapy or “forced sunbathing” to increase their levels of vitamin D.  Martineau’s finding appears to validate the old-fashioned therapy.

“We’re very excited about these positive results," he said. "But what we need to do now is go ahead and repeat the study in a larger number of patients.  And if that also shows a positive effect, then we could be in a situation where we could begin to start recommending adjunctive vitamin D in tuberculosis treatment.”

Vitamin D levels have been shown to be reduced or very low in individuals with a number of chronic ailments, including AIDS.

In another new study, researchers in Tanzania report that HIV-positive individuals with vitamin D deficiency became sicker and were twice as likely to die as those with sufficient or normal levels.  The researchers looked at vitamin D levels in 1,100 men infected with the AIDS virus between 2006 and 2010.  
 
Their study on HIV and vitamin D was published in the journal PLoS One.  An article by Adrian Martineau and colleagues on the treatment of tuberculosis with supplemental vitamin D can be found in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More