Vitamin D and Treating Tuberculosis

18 November 2015  |  Editor

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Tuberculosis and vitamin D

The classic treatment for TB always used to be to go to a sanatorium on a mountain top where there is plenty of light. Now we are starting to understand one of the reasons why this approach may have been so effective: increased levels of vitamin D from the UVB rays in the sunlight.

Scientists have now discovered that the activity of T-cell mechanisms responding to tubercular bacteria is dependent on the presence of vitamin D1.

We can make vitamin D in the skin from these UVB rays, and yet deficiency is widespread, especially in Northen Europe in the colder months where the sun is too low in the sky to provide the required UVB rays. Deficiency is also common in people who don’t go out very much or who wear clothing that completely covers their skin, perhaps for religious reasons. Sun creams and blocks also impede vitamin D production.  The same would apply for people working in an office environment behind glass windows etc.

So while doctors are struggling to keep up with drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis, vitamin D therapy may offer a new – or rather a more traditional – approach worth looking at.