Background: A previous study showed that combination of zinc and vitamin A reduced sputum conversion time in pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) patients.
Objective: We studied the efficacy of which single micronutrient contributed more to the sputum conversion time.
Methods: In a double-blind randomized community trial, newly sputum smear positive pulmonary TB patients were assigned randomly to receive zinc, vitamin A, zinc + vitamin A or placebo on top of TB treatment. Patients were asked to deliver their sputum on weekly basis to measure positivity of the bacteria. Nutritional status, chest x-ray, hemoglobin, C-reactive protein (CRP), retinol and zinc level were examined prior to, after 2 and 6 months of treatment.
Results: Initially, 300 patients were enrolled, and 255 finished the treatment. Most patients were severely malnourished (mean BMI 16.5 ± 2.2 Kg/m2). Patients in the zinc + vitamin A group showed earlier sputum conversion time (mean 1.9 weeks) compared with that in the other groups; however the difference was not significant. Also, no benefit could be demonstrated of any of the used supplementations on clinical, nutritional, chest x-ray, or laboratory findings.
Conclusions: This study among severely malnourished TB patients, did not confirm that single or combined supplementation of zinc and vitamin A significantly reduced sputum conversion time or had other significant benefit.