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Vitamin D may help with tuberculosis treatment

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Vitamin D, a vitamin synthesized by the body when exposed to sunlight, has been found to help fight tuberculosis infections, BBC News reported.

According to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, patients who were given vitamin D in combination with antibiotics recovered from tuberculosis (TB) more quickly than those who just took antibiotics.

Vitamin D was utilized for TB treatment long ago before antibiotics, with patients being prescribed heliotherapy – or “forced sunbathing” – to combat the disease, BBC News said.  Once antibiotics were developed, heliotherapy was no longer used.

Tuberculosis kills close to 1.5 million people each year, and many strains of tuberculosis are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics – rendering it untreatable.

Researchers from Queen Mary University in London looked at 95 patients with TB.  Those who took the combination of antibiotics and vitamin D recovered two weeks faster than those who did not take vitamin D.  According to BBC News, patients who only took antibiotics took an average of 36 days to recover while patients who took both vitamin D and antibiotics recovered in just 23 days on average.

"This isn't going to replace antibiotics, but it may be a useful extra weapon,” Dr. Adrian Martineau, one of the researchers from Queen Mary University, told BBC News.

Click for more from BBC News.