A new study published in the Journal of infectious diseases has found a positive and negative relationship between different doses of vitamin D and Candida infection.
Candida infection, or candidiasis, is a fungal infection that can be caused by an overgrowth of one of 20 naturally occurring species of yeast. Candidiasis commonly occurs in the mouth, known as thrush, or it can affect the vagina, known as a yeast infection.
Symptoms of thrush involve the presence of white patches on the mouth and throat, difficulty swallowing, or soreness. Symptoms of a yeast infection include itching, burning and general discomfort.
Thrush occurs most commonly among infants, the elderly and those with weak immune systems, while yeast infections occurs most commonly during pregnancy.
One of vitamin D’s role in the body is to produce an anti-microbial peptide called cathelicidin. Cathelicidin is a critical component to the body’s ability to fight off infections, such as Candida.
In the present study, researchers measured vitamin D levels among patients with candidiasis and found a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in this patient population.
In addition, they administered activated vitamin D in varying doses to mice infected with Candida.
They found that low doses of activated vitamin D reduced the fungal burden and led to better survival compared to mice not given activated vitamin D. On the other hand, they found that high doses of activated vitamin D led to poor outcomes in these mice.
“Mechanistically, low dose [activated vitamin D] induced proinflammatory immune responses,” the researchers stated. “These beneficial effects were negated with higher vitamin D3 doses.”
Trials giving vitamin D supplements to human populations will help expand on the results seen among mice.