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Vitamin D 'could help fight tuberculosis'

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Tuberculosis (TB) could be treated more effectively if patients were given vitamin D in addition to antibiotics, new research suggests.

Researchers conducted a study of 95 patients at hospitals across London and gave some patients a combination of antibiotics and vitamin D pills, while others received a placebo along with their antibiotic treatment.

It was found that those patients who were given vitamin D made a full recovery after an average of 23 days, while the other group needed an average of 36 days to clear the infection.

However, doctors said that more tests will have to be carried out before the treatment is introduced more widely.

Dr Adrian Martineau, from Queen Mary University of London, told the BBC: “This isn’t going to replace antibiotics, but it may be a useful extra weapon. It looks promising, but we need slightly stronger evidence.”

The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Vitamin D was used to treat TB patients in the pre-antibiotic era, with patients prescribed a therapy of “forced sunbathing” to increase their vitamin D production.

This treatment disappeared when antibiotics were discovered.

Today TB causes almost 1.5 million deaths every year, and health professionals are worried that some cases are becoming immune to treatment.

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