Vitamin D Supplements for Prevention of Tuberculosis Infection and Disease

N Engl J Med. 2020 Jul 23;383(4):359-368. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1915176.


Background: Vitamin D metabolites support innate immune responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Data from phase 3, randomized, controlled trials of vitamin D supplementation to prevent tuberculosis infection are lacking.

Methods: We randomly assigned children who had negative results for M. tuberculosis infection according to the QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube assay (QFT) to receive a weekly oral dose of either 14,000 IU of vitamin D3 or placebo for 3 years. The primary outcome was a positive QFT result at the 3-year follow-up, expressed as a proportion of children. Secondary outcomes included the serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) level at the end of the trial and the incidence of tuberculosis disease, acute respiratory infection, and adverse events.

Results: A total of 8851 children underwent randomization: 4418 were assigned to the vitamin D group, and 4433 to the placebo group; 95.6% of children had a baseline serum 25(OH)D level of less than 20 ng per milliliter. Among children with a valid QFT result at the end of the trial, the percentage with a positive result was 3.6% (147 of 4074 children) in the vitamin D group and 3.3% (134 of 4043) in the placebo group (adjusted risk ratio, 1.10; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.87 to 1.38; P = 0.42). The mean 25(OH)D level at the end of the trial was 31.0 ng per milliliter in the vitamin D group and 10.7 ng per milliliter in the placebo group (mean between-group difference, 20.3 ng per milliliter; 95% CI, 19.9 to 20.6). Tuberculosis disease was diagnosed in 21 children in the vitamin D group and in 25 children in the placebo group (adjusted risk ratio, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.49 to 1.55). A total of 29 children in the vitamin D group and 34 in the placebo group were hospitalized for treatment of acute respiratory infection (adjusted risk ratio, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.52 to 1.40). The incidence of adverse events did not differ significantly between the two groups.

Conclusions: Vitamin D supplementation did not result in a lower risk of tuberculosis infection, tuberculosis disease, or acute respiratory infection than placebo among vitamin D-deficient schoolchildren in Mongolia. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health; number, NCT02276755.).

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cholecalciferol / adverse effects
  • Cholecalciferol / therapeutic use*
  • Dietary Supplements* / adverse effects
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Latent Tuberculosis / epidemiology
  • Latent Tuberculosis / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis* / isolation & purification
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / prevention & control
  • Treatment Failure
  • Tuberculin Test
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamins / adverse effects
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • Cholecalciferol
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D

Associated data