A new study suggests that high-dose vitamin D supplementation may not help to prevent repeat bacterial vaginosis, a vaginal infection that is particularly common in younger women.
The findings counter past studies that suggested higher vitamin D levels could boost the immune system as it tries to fight off the infection.
"Earlier studies observed that women with low vitamin D levels were more likely to have bacterial vaginosis, and we hypothesized that vitamin D supplementation might reduce BV," study author Abigail Norris Turner, an infectious disease expert at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, said in a university news release.
"However, our study found that high-dose vitamin D supplementation wasn't helpful in preventing recurrence of BV," she added.
Bacterial vaginosis is caused by an imbalance in the bacteria that normally populate the reproductive tract. Antimicrobial treatment is usually successful at first, but many women go on to have repeat occurrences of BV.
Bacterial vaginosis is not sexually transmitted.
Still, BV has much more serious health implications. In pregnant women, it can cause spontaneous abortions, and women who have bacterial vaginosis are more susceptible to acquiring and transmitting the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) wrote ScienceDaily.com.
According to the study researchers, an estimated 21 million women are diagnosed with BV in the United States each year, stated HealthDay News
In the study, 118 women with bacterial vaginosis were randomized into two equal-sized groups, with one group receiving vitamin D3, and the other receiving a placebo.
All of the women were treated for BV with 500 mg of oral metronidazole twice daily for a week.
Of these women, 59 were also given nine doses of 50,000 IUs of cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) over 24 weeks. Those in the control group received a matching placebo. All of the women were assessed for recurrent BV at four, 12, and 24 weeks.