Unless you have a weak immune system, fungal infections rarely cause serious health problems. These infections usually go away on their own, as your body has its own defense system. Certain vitamins exhibit potent anti-fungal activity and may help prevent and treat fungal infections. Human studies are needed to know for sure, however. For now, follow your health care provider's advice on treating and preventing fungal infections.
Vitamin D has potential antimicrobial benefits against various pathogens, including fungi, according to a review published in the October 2011 issue of the journal Dermato Endocrinology. The authors write that vitamin D may reduce the risk of infection. If you already have a fungal infection, however, it's less clear whether vitamin D can treat it, according to the review. There is evidence that high doses of vitamin D reduce the activity of certain fungi, but more studies are needed to confirm this.
Vitamin B-3 exerts potent anti-fungal activity, and researchers believe it may serve as a potential anti-fungal treatment. Human studies are needed to confirm this, though. Candida albicans, a common cause of fungal infections, uses an enzyme known as Hst-3 to grow and multiply. In an animal experiment researchers found that a form of vitamin B-3 called nicotinamide significantly reduced C. albicans ability to grow and cause infection. The study was published in the July 2010 edition of Nature Medicine journal.
Researchers conducted a test tube study to evaluate the anti-fungal activity of vitamin C, with positive results. The study published in a 2014 edition of Eukaryotic Cell found that vitamin C suppressed C. albicans activity by interfering with the processes necessary for the fungi to grow and develop. It also disrupts gene expression needed for the C. albicans transition to other growth stages. Hampering the development prevents C. albicans from causing infections. Further studies in humans are needed to evaluate the effect of vitamin C as an anti-fungal.
Safety and Precaution
Because research is in the early phases, it's too soon to know whether taking certain vitamin supplements helps prevent or treat fungal infections. Contact your doctor with any concerns regarding fungal infections and avoid attempting to treat the condition on your own. Vitamins B-3 and C have a low toxicity rate, as they're both eliminated easily through urine. But vitamin D is fat-soluble and harder to eliminate. Taking high doses increases the risk of toxicity. Published studies have mostly evaluated vitamins against candida. There's no way to know whether these vitamins work against other types of fungi.
- Dermato Endocrinology: Antimicrobial Implications of Vitamin D
- Nature Medicine: Modulation of Histone H3 Lysine 56 Acetylation as an Antifungal Therapeutic Strategy
- Eukaryotic Cell: Ascorbic Acid Inhibition of Candida Albicans Hsp90-Mediated Morphogenesis Occurs via the Transcriptional Regulator Upc2