Vitamin D is one of the most important micronutrients in the human body. It plays an important role in our bone health, and it has been linked to depression, breast cancer, and cardiovascular disease. However, recent research has linked vitamin D deficiency with a somewhat surprising health condition – fungal infections.
So, is there a connection between vitamin D deficiency and fungal infections?
The link between vitamin D deficiency and fungal infections has long been postulated. A study done in 2012 by the University of Illinois at Chicago found that vitamin D deficiency was linked with oral candidiasis in HIV positive women.
The study included 84 women that participated in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) and found that 26 percent of women who were vitamin D deficient also suffered from oral candidiasis. Scientists suspect that the reason for this connection is the fact that vitamin D negatively affects the expression of calprotectin – an immune regulatory protein complex that has been heavily associated with oral candidiasis.
A 2015 study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases reaches a similar conclusion but connects vitamin D with a different compound – cathelicidins. Cathelicidins are antimicrobial peptides that play an important role in our immune systems, helping us fight bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
The study found that injecting Candida-infected mice with low doses of vitamin D helped them defend against the infection and increased their chance of survival. However, the scientists also found that very high levels of active vitamin D may have a rather negative effect.
Although more research is needed to confirm the link between vitamin D deficiency and fungal infections, initial results seem convincing. Human trials are the next step towards further examining this connection.