Fat-Soluble Vitamins Make Antibiotics Effective Against Superbugs

Volume 7    |    Issue 32

Have you ever heard of a disease called "65 Roses"? That's actually the name many cystic fibrosis patients call their disease. Some call it that because they have trouble saying the actual name of the disease. Others use it because of a cute story from 1965.

Mary Weiss just found out her three little boys had cystic fibrous, a genetic lung disorder that also affects the pancreas, liver, kidneys, and intestines. The disease causes difficulty breathing (making it hard to say the name of the disease) and coughing up mucus as a result of frequent lung infections.

Mary decided she was going to help raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. While making calls seeking financial support, her 4-year-old son Richard overheard the calls. After one call, he came in and said, "I know what you are working for. You are working for 65 Roses." Since then, the term "65 Roses" has been used by children of all ages to describe their disease. But, making it easier to say does not make CF any easier to live with. Doctors typically treat the chronic lung infections with antibiotics. And now many of these infections are antibiotic resistant. That's the bad news.

The good news is researchers may have found a way to beat these antibiotic-resistant germs – and their findings may have wider implications. The solution to beating these superbugs is with fat-soluble vitamins.

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The vitamins act like a blocker in football. In football, the goal of the defense is to stop the ball carrier. In your body, proteins called lipocalins are the defense of bacteria. This protein grabs a hold of the antibiotic and tackles it before it can reach its goal (the bacteria). These researchers discovered that fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin E, attract the lipocalins and attach to them better than antibiotics. So they effectively block the lipocalins so the antibiotics can reach their goal — allowing them to kill the bacteria.

While this study addressed cystic fibrosis specifically, the ramifications could be widespread. Speaking about this breakthrough, Professor Valvano explains: "Antibiotic resistance is a global phenomenon which prevents the effective treatment of diseases. Our research shows that bacteria not only can resist the action of antibiotics once they are internalized but can also capture antibiotics before they reach and penetrate into the bacterial cells.

"Fat-soluble vitamins can 'soak up' the lipocalins before they have a chance to bind the antibiotics, increasing the chances that antibiotics will reach the bacteria. We are now exploring ways to reformulate antibiotics together with relevant vitamins for delivery into cystic fibrosis patients and assess their efficacy, so that patients can benefit from these findings."

The obvious question then is this: Should you take fat-soluble vitamins any time you take antibiotics? We don't know the answer to this yet. We can't just assume they will help, as some vitamins can interfere with drugs (and vice versa). However, taking fat-soluble vitamins with natural antibiotics could help them fight the bacteria even better. This is an area that needs more study.

But if you ever contract an antibiotic-resistant superbug, talk to your doctor about taking vitamin E or other fat-soluble vitamins with your antibiotics. It could save your life.

Your insider for better health,



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