Vitamin C in your diet boosts tuberculosis treatment, says study

  • Updated
Vitamin C increases the effect of TB drugs. Pixabay

A new study claims that tuberculosis patients would experience potentially less negative impacts if they include green vegetables, bell pepper, berries and oranges in their daily diet.

Studies in mice and in tissue cultures revealed that providing Vitamin C, along with tuberculosis drugs, would benefit the patient in the long run by removing the disease's pathogens and external harmful agents.

The researchers treated Mycobacterium tuberculosis-infected mice with anti-tuberculosis drugs as well as Vitamin C alone. After that, they measured M. tuberculosis (Mtb) organ burdens at four and six weeks post-treatment.

"Vitamin C had no activity by itself, but in two independent experiments, the combination of vitamin C with the first-line Tb drugs, isoniazed and rifampicin, reduced the organ burdens faster than the two drugs without vitamin C," said lead author Catherine J. Vilcheze, Ph.D. Instructor, Department ofMicrobiology & Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY.

While experimenting with infected tissue cultures, similar results were shown, shortening the time of sterilization of the tissue culture by seven days.

"Our study shows that the addition of vitamin C to TB drug treatment potentiates the killing of Mtb and could shorten TB chemotherapy," said William R. Jacobs, Jr., Ph.D Investigator.

"That's important because treatment of drug-susceptible tuberculosis takes six months, "resulting in some treatment mismanagement, potentially leading to the emergence and spread of drug-resistant TB," Jacob added.

The investigators claimed that long-term treatment is needed for tuberculosis as its subpopulation of Mtb cells can form Mtb persister cells, dormant cells that are virtually impermeable to antimicrobials.

In one of the previous studies, the investigators observed that high levels of vitamin C would kill dividing cells. However, lower concentrations of vitamin C would trigger respiration and prevent the formation of persisters. In the new paper the investigators have postulated that Vitamin C was triggering respiration of the Mtb cells in mice; and helping the action of isoniazid and rifampicin.

A study conducted in 1948 claimed that consumption of vitamin C was potentially safe for humans due to its utmost healthful qualities. Investigators gave to terminally ill patients high doses of vitamin C without causing any side effects. As a result, even the bedridden patients have regained their appetite and physical strength.

Tuberculosis is a widely known disease which is spread across the globe. In fact, it is a major public health issue. Nearly 10 million were sickened by disease and 1.7 million killed in 2016.

According to the investigation, treatment of TB requires at least two years' duration to get thoroughly cured and might experience side effects due to use of toxic drugs.

"Vitamin C is known to be safe and our current mouse studies suggest that vitamin C could enhance TB chemotherapy," Jacob added.

The detailed research information is published in Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, Journal of the American Society for Microbiology.

This article was first published on January 4, 2018