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New research published in the journal BMC Research Notes has found that vitamin D deficiency is common in Ugandan patients with tuberculosis.

Uganda has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis in the world, with an estimated incidence rate of 193 cases per 100,000.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to tuberculosis in the past, with some research showing that vitamin D supplementation can help fight tuberculosis, both preventatively and therapeutically.

In the present study, researchers wanted to know if patients admitted to the hospital for tuberculosis in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, were vitamin D deficient or not.

They measured vitamin D levels among other things in 260 consecutively admitted tuberculosis patients. They found vitamin D deficiency was common, despite Uganda close proximity to the equator and having an abundance of sunshine.

They found 44.2% of the patients were deficient in vitamin D, with levels less than 20 ng/ml. Of these 115 patients with deficient levels, 35 of them had levels less than 10 ng/ml. Thirty percent of patients had levels above 30 ng/ml.

The researchers also noticed that vitamin D deficiency was more common in patients with HIV co-infection, low CD4 cell counts (a type of cell that helps your immune system) and anemia.

“This demonstrates that vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent among admitted adult tuberculosis patients in Uganda,” the researchers stated. “These findings are congruent with what has been documented in other published African studies among tuberculosis patients.”

The researchers call for more research on the effects of vitamin D supplementation on preventing and treating tuberculosis, particularly in the form of randomized controlled trials.


Kibirige D et al. Vitamin D deficiency among adult patients with tuberculosis: a cross sectional study from a national referral hospital in Uganda. BMC Res Notes, 2013

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