Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease usually caused by Mycobacterium Tuberculosis bacteria. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body.Cough that lasts for several weeks, and is sometimes accompanies by blood in cough is one of the major symptoms of TB, Other symptoms may include chest pain, fever, fatigue, unintentional weight loss etc.
Role of micronutrients in tuberculosis
Because of diverse metabolic characteristics and functions, micronutrients have presently been accepted as essential for optimum human health. Micronutrients deficiency is considered to be the most frequent cause of secondary immunodeficiency and infection related morbidity including tuberculosis.
Zinc- Various studies on patients with tuberculosis had shown significantly lower plasma zinc level than those without tuberculosis, irrespective of their nutritional status. There was significant rise in zinc level at the end of six- months of antituberculosis therapy (ATT). Thus, it may be suggested that plasma zinc status is likely a marker for monitoring the severity of disease and response to therapy. Zinc supplementation of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis helps to increase immunity and thereby speed up the recovery process. An adequate supply of zinc needs to be ensured through foods such as seafood, meat, seeds, and cooked dried beans, peas and lentils
Vitamin A- It has been shown that vitamin A has immuno-competent role in human tuberculosis. Vitamin A was reported to inhibit multiplication of virulent bacteria, lymphocyte proliferation and in maintaining the function of epithelial tissues. In an Indian study, the low vitamin A levels observed in tuberculosis patients returned to normal at the end of ATT without vitamin A supplementation. Nevertheless, increasing intake of Vitamin A rich foods can support the medical treatment of TB. High vitamin A foods include sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, winter squashes, lettuce, dried apricots, cantaloupe, bell peppers, fish, liver, and tropical fruits.
Vitamin D- Vitamin D plays a role in the function of macrophages, key factor in host resistance (defense) in tuberculosis. Vitamin D deficiency itself was shown to be a risk factor for tuberculosis. It is important to ensure that patients are not suffering from severe Vitamin D deficiency and if it is the case then adequate supplementation should be initiated.
Vitamin E- In many studies, concentration of vitamin E was found to be significantly lower in tuberculosis patients than healthy controls.Vitamin E is found mainly in foods that contain fat. Some examples are nuts, seeds, avocado, vegetable oils and wheat germ. Some dark leafy greens and fish are also sources of vitamin E.
Vitamin C- Studies have linked vitamin C deficiency with tuberculosis.
Selenium- The essential trace element selenium has an important function in maintaining the immune processes and thus may have a critical role in clearance of the bacteria related to TB. Seafoods and organ meats are the richest food sources of selenium. Other sources include muscle meats, cereals and other grains, and dairy products.
Iron- Anemia is highly prevalent among adults with pulmonary tuberculosis. In a study, concentration of hemoglobin was lower in tuberculosis patients than that in normal healthy subjects There are two explanations for the association of low iron status and infection. One is that anemia results from chronic infection and the other is that iron deficiency would increase susceptibility to infection such as tuberculosis.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids- The omega 3 fatty acids can improve immunity in TB patients. Dietary sources providing the omega 3 fatty acids include fish oil and flaxseeds.
Cholesterol- In tuberculosis patients , there is lowering of cholesterol levels in the body and can be a cause of death . Hence, the diet of TB patients should be rich in cholesterol containing foods such as egg yolks, cheese, milk, etc.