For many women, constant vaginal infections are the “bane of their existence” and it can feel like they no sooner gets over one vaginal infection that another one comes right along. A study published in “The Journal of Nutrition” tested 469 women--209 white and 260 black--in their first trimester of pregnancy to determine if their vitamin D levels affected their occurrence of bacterial vaginosis (BV).
The study results found that more than half the women had vitamin D levels under 37 nanomoles (nm) per liter. Adequate levels in the study were determined to be around 80 nm. Vitamin D levels in women that measured less than 50 nm had a 26 percent increased risk of vaginal infections and those who measured less than 20 nm had a 65 percent increased risk.
In addition, black women were almost three times more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency, which is thought to be related to darker skin blocking some of the absorption of vitamin D from the sun.
Vitamin D has gotten a lot of attention these days as research is showing that deficiencies have contributed to a variety of conditions such as chronic pain, fatigue, depression, bowel disturbances, cardiovascular disease, bone weakness and cancer. The medical community is currently in disagreement about how much vitamin D is needed a day but overall it is felt we are not getting enough.
What to do about your Vitamin D levels:
1. Discuss with your doctor your concern that low vitamin D may be contributing to your frequent vaginal infections or other problems you may have. Ask to have a baseline vitamin D level drawn. Make sure it is a 25-hydroxyvitamin D test, also called a 25(OH)D level, which is more accurate.
2. Vitamin D levels in the study were measure in nanomoles (nm) while lab results are often measured in nanograms (ng), which can be a bit confusing. Historically it was thought that a reading of 30 ng (about 75 nm) was adequate but current thinking is that vitamin D levels should probably be around 50-80 ng. If your levels are below 50 ng, ask about supplementation.
Oral vitamin D should be supplemented by taking vitamin D3.