We answer your burning questions about urinary tract infections (UTIs) and explain the role of cranberry extract in managing UTIs.

Urinary tract infections are extremely common. It is estimated that around 50 % of South African women will have at least one UTI in their lifetime and 20 – 40 % will have recurrent episodes1. UTIs cause significant discomfort including pain with urination, pelvic pain, fatigue and back ache and an untreated UTI can lead to more serious complications, such as kidney infections.

If you suspect that you have a urinary tract infection you should visit your doctor immediately. The treatment for UTIs is a prescription antibiotic2.

Cranberry has been used for hundreds of years as a popular alternative therapy for UTIs and while there is no evidence that cranberry can actually treat or cure an existing UTI, there is substantial research to support that it may play a preventative role in the occurrence and frequency of UTIs. The mechanism of action is thought to be due to the content of proanthocyanidins in cranberry that target infectious bacteria (including Pseudomonas aeruginosaE. coli and Proteus mirabilis) by inhibiting motility and adherence to the lining of the urinary tract. Cranberry proanthocyanidins appear to be unique, because cranberry is more effective than other proanthocyanin-containing foods, such as grape juice, apple juice, green tea and dark chocolate3. Numerous reviews and meta-analyses have indicated that although the exact dose and effectiveness of cranberry needs further study, there is enough evidence of a protective effect against UTIs to warrant future research2,3.

Four reasons to try Vital Cranberry capsules for prevention of Urinary Tract Infections:

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance is a significant and growing concern globally and particularly related to UTIs because of their high recurrence rate and the prescription of broad-spectrum antibiotics in practice. It is possible that the current available antibiotics may become less effective over time as bacterial strains develop various clever resistance mechanisms via mutations2,4. This type of bacterial resistance occurs because of widespread antibiotic use and failure to use antibiotics correctly. Medical treatment in clinical practice in South Africa often bypasses taking urine samples to identify the exact bacterial strain in each case because it takes 3-5 days to get results and is impractical, so the general treatment is the prescription of a broad-spectrum antibiotic1. Lifestyle measures and alternative therapies that help to prevent infection are worth trying to prevent antibiotic resistance.

A healthier microbiome

Factors that affect normal vaginal microbiota increase the risk of UTIs2. Antibiotics are not selective in their bacterial target, and they disrupt the microbiome significantly, so while they might treat an immediate infection, they could also predispose an individual to future infection. Reducing recurrence of UTIs means fewer doses of antibiotics and less disruption to the microbiome, which in turn protects against future infection.

Convenience of a capsule

The exact effective dose of cranberry juice for UTI prevention is not yet clear, which is likely because there has been a lot of dropout and withdrawal of subjects from studies on cranberry juice itself due to the perceived acceptability of consuming the supposed minimum effective amount of cranberry juice daily over long periods5.  Research suggests that 300ml per day is the optimum dose of cranberry juice2. Cranberry in capsule form, such as Vital Cranberry, may be a more sustainable and acceptable long term option, particularly for those who do not enjoy the flavour of cranberry, or those trying to reduce overall sugar intake, since most cranberry juice on the market in South Africa is either sweetened with sugar or diluted with apple or grape juice.

Tested and verified PAC levels

At Vital, the PAC level in each batch of cranberry capsules is tested to ensure antioxidant quality. The beauty of PACs is that their powerful antioxidant potential has been linked to diverse health benefits including anticancer, antidiabetic, neuroprotective and antimicrobial actions6. Therefore, apart from the role cranberry may play in UTI prevention, cranberry extract is also an antioxidant supplement that is protective of overall health.


  1. Fourie JL, Ciaassen FM, Myburgh JJ. Causative pathogens and antibiotic resistance in community-acquired urinary tract infections in central South Africa. S Afr Med J. 2021 Feb; 111(2):124-8.
  2. Sihra N, Goodman A, Zakri R, Sahai A, Malde S. Nonantibiotic prevention and management of recurrent urinary tract infection. Nat Rev Urol. 2018 Oct; 15:750-776.
  3. Fu Z, Liska D, Talan D, Chung M. Cranberry reduces the risk of urinary tract infection recurrence in otherwise healthy women: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Nutr.2017 Dec;147(12):2282-2288.
  4. Gonzalez De Llano D, Moreno-Arribas MV, Bartolomé B. Cranberry polyphenols and prevention against urinary tract infections: Relevant considerations. 2020 Aug; 25(15): 3523.
  5. De Campos Freire G. Cranberries for preventing urinary tract infections. Sao Paulo Med J2013;131(5):363.
  6. Rauf A, Muhammed I, Abu-Izneid T, Ul-Haq I, Patel S, Pan X et al. Proanthocyanidins: A comprehensive review. Biomed Pharmacother. 2019 Aug;116:108999.