Vitamin C infusions are becoming more popular to help address a number of health concerns. But what exactly is Vitamin C, and what health issues can it treat? Are there any side effects? Keep reading to explore the benefits of Vitamin C and get the information you need to decide if Vitamin C infusion therapy is right for you.
What is Vitamin C and why is it important?
Ascorbate, better known as Vitamin C, is a water-soluble vitamin. It is necessary to maintain normal growth, development, and maintain your overall health. Unlike some other vitamins, the body cannot produce Vitamin C on its own, nor is it able to store it in significant amounts. Therefore, the only way to ensure you have sufficient Vitamin C is through a healthy diet and supplements. Fruits and vegetables are the primary source for Vitamin C in your diet.
Examples of foods high in Vitamin C include:
- Brussel sprouts
- Berries (especially blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries)
- Dark leafy greens (especially kale, spinach, and Swiss chard)
- Green peas
- Guava and mango
- Papaya and pineapple
- Sweet peppers
- Tomatoes (especially pastes or juices)
Why is Vitamin C important?
Vitamin C is necessary for a variety of body functions, including:
- Tissue regeneration: Vitamin C is necessary for tissue growth and repair in a number of ways. It is necessary to form an important protein used by the body to build blood vessels, ligaments, skin, and tendons. It also is vital in cartilage, bone, and tooth repair and maintenance. Without Vitamin C, your body would not be able to heal wounds or form scar tissue.
- Iron absorption: Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, helping you avoid iron deficiency.
- Antioxidant: Vitamin C is just one of many antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that can cause cellular damage. They are created by natural body functions and are believed to cause illness and aging. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals and can block them from damaging cells.
- Neurotransmitter production: Vitamin C is used by the body to create important chemical messengers necessary to help your body function, known as neurotransmitters.
- Immune system function: Vitamin C is involved in multiple aspects of the immune system. It stimulates the production of white blood cells and helps protect them with its antioxidant properties. Vitamin C’s role in tissue regeneration also means it helps strengthen the skin barrier and promotes wound healing, further helping protect the body from illness and infection.
The body cannot function properly without Vitamin C. Severe and consistent Vitamin C deficiency could lead to a condition called scurvy.
In addition to researching what happens when the body does not get enough Vitamin C, scientists have also explored the possible benefits of taking high-dose vitamin C for various conditions. Intravenous (IV) supplementation of Vitamin C has emerged as a preferred administration method of high-dose Vitamin C treatments for a number of reasons.
What are the benefits to Vitamin C infusions over other forms?
There are several benefits to Vitamin C infusions over supplements in other forms. High-dose Vitamin C is added to IV fluids and delivered directly to the bloodstream through a long, thin tube attached to a needle that is inserted into a vein.
Sessions generally last about an hour, offering benefits such as:
- Helping you stay hydrated: IV fluids hydrate the body and contain electrolytes. Electrolytes are minerals responsible for several functions in the body, including maintaining pH levels, fueling cells with nutrients, helping cells shed waste, and supporting proper function of the brain, heart, muscles, and nerves.
- 90% absorption: Because Vitamin C is delivered directly into the bloodstream, none is lost in the digestive process, allowing 90% or more of the treatment to be absorbed. With most oral supplements, digestion breaks down the vitamin, limiting how much is absorbed into the body to 50%.
- Can be combined with other treatments: Other vitamins, medications, and treatments can be combined with Vitamin C infusions, allowing you to streamline treatments. You can discuss with your doctor whether this is a beneficial option for you.
What are the benefits of Vitamin C?
Because Vitamin C is essential to so many body functions, it has been studied as a potential treatment for a wide array of conditions. Currently, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved high-dose Vitamin C injections or infusions for treating Vitamin C deficiency or for treating serious trauma or burn wounds.
Additionally, there are multiple “off-label” uses for Vitamin C infusions for other conditions that may prompt a doctor to prescribe Vitamin C. ‘Off-label’ means an FDA-approved treatment is being used for a different purpose than what it was initially approved for.
High dose Vitamin C as a way to help enhance and support cancer treatments has been studied by experts since the 1970s. Researchers believe that in high enough quantities, Vitamin C can help kill cancer cells without harming other cells. Traditionally, research into Vitamin C as a cancer treatment was done with oral supplements, which led to inconclusive results.
However, in recent years, the benefits of high-dose Vitamin C in intravenous form have appeared to be more effective. When given with conventional chemotherapy drugs in a study, Vitamin C helped kill cancer cells, as well as reduced the toxic side effects of chemotherapy. It appeared to do this by surrounding tumor cells and acting as a pro-oxidant- stimulating the production of hydrogen peroxide, which kills cancer cells.
Much research is needed before Vitamin C is fully approved as a treatment for cancer. Pharmaceutical companies have little motivation to invest in studies since they are unable to patent a natural substance, and thus they are more likely to invest in studies of more profitable treatments.
General wellness and immune system benefits
Many people get Vitamin C infusions for general wellness purposes, and as a means of naturally boosting immune health. This is helpful for those prone to Vitamin C deficiency who have difficulty remembering to take supplements daily. Those who already get enough Vitamin C in their diet may not experience general wellness benefits to the same degree as others.
Some touted preventative health benefits of Vitamin C are unproven. Among these are:
- Reducing risk of cancer
- Preventing heart disease
- Preventing eye disease like macular degeneration
- Preventing the common cold
While the potential benefits of Vitamin C cannot be denied, there is no scientific evidence fully backing these claims.
Vitamin C functions as a natural antihistamine and antioxidant. Studies show it can help decrease symptoms related to an allergic reaction – inflammation, swelling, and others.
While allergy medicines block histamine receptors, Vitamin C reduces how much histamine you produce. Vitamin C infusions are believed to be more effective for this purpose over oral supplements, with one study finding that Vitamin C infusions decreased histamine levels in blood by approximately 50%. Another showed Vitamin C IV reduced allergy symptoms like itching, runny nose, restlessness, sneezing, and sleep problems in 97% of participants, with only one patient out of 71 experiencing side effects.
More research must be conducted before Vitamin C infusions become an approved treatment for allergies. However, you can speak to your doctor to determine if Vitamin C IV therapy may be effective in relieving your allergy symptoms.
Vitamin C is sometimes used as a weight loss aid. Researchers believe that Vitamin C deficiency may be linked to difficulty in burning fat. While Vitamin C is an important part of body functions necessary for weight loss, there is no conclusive evidence that Vitamin C causes weight loss. Vitamin C is not a substitute for healthy diet and exercise, even for those who may experience fat-burning benefits.
Given the importance of Vitamin C to various body functions, it seems obvious that Vitamin C could have an impact on Covid-19. First, it’s important to note that there is no evidence showing that Vitamin C alone could prevent nor cure Covid-19.
Those with a Vitamin C deficiency are more likely to get infected by Covid-19 and are more likely to develop severe symptoms. This is due to impaired immunity caused by insufficient Vitamin C. Many of the conditions that put people at high risk of developing severe Covid-19 symptoms also make it more likely that a person would be Vitamin C deficient, such as cancer, diabetes, inflammatory conditions, being immunocompromised, and those who smoke.
There are many studies still underway to determine the benefits of treating Covid-19 with Vitamin C.
Studies reflect that Vitamin C supplementation has shown promise in the following ways:
- Helps elderly people with severe respiratory infections
- Reduces length and hospital stay and severity of pneumonia in elderly patients
- Reduces duration of mechanical ventilation for ICU patients
- Helps reduce symptoms stemming from acute respiratory distress syndrome.
How can I know if I am Vitamin C deficient?
Given that Vitamin C is so essential to health, you may be wondering whether you are getting enough Vitamin C. Roughly 7% of adults in the U.S. are Vitamin C deficient.
The most common risk factors leading to Vitamin C deficiency are:
- Poor diet
- Severe mental illness
If you need more Vitamin C, you may notice some of the following indicators:
- Dry, damaged skin
- Bleeding gums
- Persistent Iron Deficiency
- Fatigue and Poor Mood
If you think you may be experiencing Vitamin C deficiency, you should contact your doctor and let them know about your concerns. They can conduct tests to determine whether or not you are experiencing vitamin deficiency, and help you create a plan to ensure you get more Vitamin C in your diet or through supplementation.
Are there any side effects to Vitamin C infusions?
Vitamin C is a fairly safe treatment but can cause some side effects if taken at doses that are too high.
Though Vitamin C is water-soluble, it can accumulate in the body and cause adverse effects such as:
- Digestive symptoms: The most common side effects of high-dose Vitamin C intake are nausea and diarrhea. Some people report experiencing acid reflux as well; however, there is no scientific evidence to support that this is a side effect.
- Iron overload: Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron. People with conditions that lead to high iron accumulation in the body may experience iron overload, which can seriously damage your central nervous system, thyroid, pancreas, liver, and heart.
- Kidney stones: Vitamin C is broken down by the body into oxalate, a form of bodily waste that typically exits the body in urine. Excess levels of oxalate can bind to minerals in urine, forming crystals that lead to kidney stones.
There are also risks associated with getting an IV infusion. IV treatments are generally safe if they are administered properly by a licensed and trained healthcare professional following hygiene protocols.
However, even in that scenario, there is still a chance of some adverse effects, including:
- Infection at the site of injection
- Vein damage
- Air embolism
Vitamin C may interact with certain medications. This is because Vitamin C makes urine more acidic, which may change how your body breaks down certain medications, affecting the levels of them in your body. This may decrease their effectiveness or increase the side effects of medications.
A few examples of medications with Vitamin C contraindications include:
- Fluphenazine (Prolixin)
- Magnesium salicylate (Novasal)
- Mexiletine (Mexitil)
There is some controversy that high-dose Vitamin C may negatively impact radiation and chemotherapy, making them less effective. However, there is no conclusive evidence of Vitamin C having negative effects on radiation or chemotherapy.
What can I expect from a Vitamin C infusion therapy appointment?
Before getting Vitamin C therapy, you should consult with a doctor to determine whether it is the right treatment for you. The doctor should review your family medical history, as well as your personal history, to assess your risk of side effects or contraindications.
Vitamin C therapy sessions last an hour or less. You should make sure to vet your vitamin IV therapy provider to make sure they are properly licensed and trained. The risk of side effects from intravenous therapy is significantly lessened when proper procedures and hygiene practices are followed.
In-Home IV Treatments With Drip Hydration
Drip Hydration offers mobile IV treatments in the comfort of your home. Once you book your appointment, a certified nurse will come to your desired location and administer the treatment, which usually takes less than an hour. During this time, you can do anything you’d like, such as relax under a warm blanket or watch TV. Drip Hydration will also go to hotels, worksites, or other locations upon request.
You can either browse our treatment options and decide which is best for you or speak to a representative who can help you choose what you need based on your health goals. To schedule your appointment or learn more, contact us today!