Both high and low serum vitamin D concentrations are associated with tuberculosis: a case-control study in Greenland

Br J Nutr. 2010 Nov;104(10):1487-91. doi: 10.1017/S0007114510002333. Epub 2010 Jun 17.


Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with increased risk of tuberculosis (TB). Changes from a traditional to a Westernised diet among Greenlanders have resulted in reduced serum vitamin D, leading to considerations of whether preventive vitamin D supplementation should be introduced. The association between vitamin D status and TB was examined to assess the feasibility of vitamin D supplementation in Greenland. This was examined in a case-control study involving seventy-two matched pairs of TB patients (cases) and controls aged 8-74 years. Cases were diagnosed with TB during 2004-6 based on clinical findings in combination with either (1) positive Mycobacterium tuberculosis culture, (2) characteristic X-ray abnormalities together with a positive tuberculin skin test or a positive interferon-γ release assay or (3) characteristic histology. Controls were individually matched on age ( ± 5 years), sex and district. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations were measured and OR of TB were the outcome. Compared with individuals with 25(OH)D concentrations between 75 and 140 nmol/l, individuals with concentrations < 75 nmol/l (OR 6.5; 95% CI 1.8, 23.5) or > 140 nmol/l (OR 6.5; 95% CI 1.9, 22.2) had higher risks of active TB (P = 0.003; adjustment for alcohol and ethnicity). Supplementing individuals with low vitamin D to normalise serum 25(OH)D concentrations was estimated to result in a 29% reduction in the number of TB cases. The study indicated that vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial to individuals with insufficient vitamin D concentrations but may increase the risk of TB among individuals with normal or high concentrations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Female
  • Greenland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Inuit / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / blood*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / ethnology
  • Vitamin D / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Vitamin D