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Low Vitamin D Levels Associated With Increased Risk of Tuberculosis

Vitamin D is often referred to as the "sunshine vitamin" because our bodies absorb it from the sun. A recent study suggests that the lower amount of sunshine exposure in winter months - and therefore the lower amount of vitamin D absorption - may be correlated with higher incidences of tuberculosis (TB).

Australian researchers examined data from the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System from 2011-2012. There were 11,576 active TB notifications during that period. Analysis of those notifications showed that there were 24% more notifications in the winter months than the summer months.

The incidence of tuberculosis peaked between September and December, which are 2-3 months after the winter months that contain the least sunshine. This is also the time of year when the population has the lowest levels of circulating vitamin D. Additionally, while overall notifications were 24% higher, they were actually 34% higher in the Southern states, which receive the least amount of sunshine during the winter.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory and the University of Melbourne in Australia. It was presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australasian Society for Infectious Disease, which took place from March 20 to March 23, 2013.

Previous studies have shown vitamin D to be associated with improved kidney health, reductions in the risk of skin cancer, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, combating diabetes, and improving age related eye degeneration.

Vitamin D can be found in milk, fortified cereals, fish, and eggs. As this study shows, your body also processes vitamin D from the sun but it becomes harder for our bodies to process it as we age. A high quality vitamin D supplement is always a good option if you feel that you’re not getting enough through diet and sun.

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