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The whats and whys of IV Vitamin C

Updated: Nov 19, 2020

Three times a week we get calls about "high dose Vitamin C" and whether or not we offer it. That's a loaded question. Before getting into the benefits, indications, contraindications, and risks of Vitamin C we first need to know what "high dose Vitamin D" really is.

Generally speaking, many people refer to almost any amount of Vitamin C given intravenously as "high dose". The typical IV drip spa or treatment center includes between 5 and 10 grams of Vitamin C in what they call a "high dose Vitamin C" package. They're wrong. In actuality, "high dose" Vitamin C means 20g or more, and it's incredibly important to be sure how much you're getting. If you're sneaking over to an IV page to find out if drinking too much powdered Vitamin C drink can hurt you, relax. There's usually one gram of C in one of those packets and you won't absorb the whole gram. You'd have to eat a few hundred oranges to get to the danger zone.

Side effects from receiving 5, or even 10 or 15, grams of Vitamin C are very rare, and generally only strike those patients who have kidney failure. There's a very good reason we ask every patient if they have, or have had a history of, kidney issues. Large amounts of Vitamin C can cause kidney failure in patients who've had a history of insufficient kidney function. If you have a history of kidney stones, Vitamin C infusions may not be for you.

All that said, when you hit 20g of Vitamin C, that's when you're in "high dose Vitamin C" territory, and that's a whole new ballgame. Receiving that amount of Vitamin C, or more, requires a blood test because severe side-effects can occur for people with certain sensitivities. At Rapid Recovery, we simply don't do more than 15g of Vitamin C. The blood test is expensive and takes some time to be returned, and generally should be repeated periodically.

Which dovetails nicely to our next common question. "If it's good for cancer patients, why don't you offer 20 grams or more?"

Yes, there have been some studies that showed some positive outcomes for cancer patients getting high dose Vitamin C, but you really need to look closely at the studies, and the benefits achieved.

First, most of the studies (and they go back as far as the early 1970s) were very small in nature. Some were 6 patients, some 9, and some 14-20. It's also important to note that the studies that showed the most effectiveness in stopping the growth of tumors were in animals, not humans. There have been several studies that showed improved quality of life in most patients participating in the studies, but it's not clear that the dosage needed to be more than 10g. Further, patients who have bone or blood cancer may be at increased risk for severe side-effects if receiving high dose Vitamin C. Some patients with colorectal cancer and metastatic melanoma actually got worse when given IV Vitamin C as compared to the control patients who did not get Vitamin C.

If you are undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiation, Vitamin C via IV has been shown to stop the growth of several types of tumors (pancreatic, prostate, and breast among them), so as long as you aren't infused with potentially harmful doses, it can certainly be said that adding Vitamin C IVs ON THE ADVICE OF YOUR TREATING ONCOLOGIST, to your physician-planned cancer treatments can't hurt if you have the right kind of cancer, and may be beneficial in some cases.

So, if not as a cancer treatment, why get IV Vitamin C?

How much time do you have friend? First, for sake of vanity, it's GREAT for your skin. Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant which can help increase the body's production of collagen. That means fewer lines and wrinkles. When we age our body's production of collagen basically falls off a cliff. You have surely noticed that as people age their skin becomes less "elastic", begins to sag, becomes wrinkled, and looks similar to crepe paper. This is due in large part to a lack of collagen. You've seen creams and lotions advertised that include collagen. Vitamin C helps your body create its own.

Vitamin C is also a whopper of an anti-inflammatory. One of the most troublesome parts of a cold, or the flu, is the inflammation (or swelling) in your lungs and sinuses. The inflammation adds to your wheeze, your difficulty breathing, and increased mucus production. That's the primary reason you've been told all your life to drink orange juice when you have a cold. The Vitamin C is also key to helping your immune system fight off a cold or the flu, but the anti-inflammatory properties are what provide the immediate relief.

A lesser known, but important, benefit to Vitamin C is its ability to help those with anemia. One of the unfortunate causes of anemia can be a person's inability to absorb dietary (non-heme) iron. Vitamin C has been shown effective in stopping the prevention of dietary iron absorption, which can be a big factor in keeping anemics from having to take iron supplements. For this reason, patients who absorb and store TOO MUCH iron are often told not to do anything to increase their Vitamin C intake, in any form. The ability to absorb iron from your diet is absolutely key to preventing anemia, and according to multiple large-scale studies Vitamin C can be a great help.

So, if you came here to read that Vitamin C is a wonder drug and that all your ails can be cured by coming to Rapid Recovery for a weekly jolt of high dose Vitamin C, we hate to disappoint you, but that's not the case. It IS the case however that Vitamin C is a wonderful anti-oxidant, is great for your skin, promotes collagen production, is a powerful anti-oxidant that can help you get over cold and flu symptoms faster than you would otherwise, helps fight off anemia, and provides a real boost to your immune system. That's enough for us to love it, for us to take, and for us to make it available to you.

If you're convinced and want to try a #VitaminCDrip you can book at

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