Vitamin C is an important nutrient that may be low or deficient when the body is burdened with disease.

Vitamin C deficiency is reported to occur more frequently in patients with chronic disease, major depression, in hospitalized patients, post-surgical patients, radiation to the gastrointestinal tract, history of malabsorption, treatment with chemotherapy having intestinal or mucosal side effects, slow wound healing, or infection.

Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include fatigue, myalgia, loss of appetite, weakness, poor wound healing, and edema or swelling in the lower extremities (i.e. legs, thighs, feet).

Vitamin C has important roles in supporting the immune system and decreasing inflammation.

It is for some of the above reasons why vitamin C may improve quality of life and survival.

Intravenous vitamin C bag

Abnormal cells respond very differently to vitamin C than when compared to the body’s normal cells when applied by intravenous injection. For example, such abnormal cells makes a rather rapid and sustained increase in hydrogen peroxide in response to vitamin C which results in a “rusting-effect” known as oxidative damage which damages or kills such cells. Normal or healthy cells do not respond this way with vitamin C intravenously.

Supportive ingredients alongside the vitamin C, to potentially address other deficiencies , may assist the body to further help harness the immune-system.

Precautions: 

The negative side effects of vitamin C IV are rare.  However, there are concerns and potential side effects to be considered:

  • Although it has been reported only once in the literature (Scot Med J 1979;24:151), necrosis, hemorrhage, and subsequent death after a single intravenous 10 gram dose of vitamin C should be the highest priority for safety. This is why smaller doses are typically used initially

  • Another report described acute oxalate nephropathy in a patient with bilateral ureteric obstruction and renal insufficiency who received 60 gram IVC. Consequently, the kidneys need to be working well enough before beginning and especially with higher dose infusions.

  • A rare hemolysis can occur in patients with a red cell glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD) and so this may be screened.

  • Localized pain at the infusion site can occur if the infusion rate is too high or the pH too low.  This is easily corrected by either slowing the rate or adjusting the formula.

  • Vitamin C may decrease the levels of calcium, chloride, and potassium and as a consequence some patients may experience shakiness or ache. This may be assisted by adjusting the formula with those ingredients.

  • Given the amount of fluid and sodium that is used as the carrier for vitamin C, any condition which could be affected by the increased fluid load (i.e. congestive heart failure, ascites, edema, pleural effusion, etc.) needs to be monitored more closely and a tailored protocol given accordingly.

  • IVC may be dehydrating and cause a temporary lowering of blood sugar, and so proper hydration and nourishment needs to be emphasized prior

  • It may falsely read as very high  blood sugar if measured shortly after an infusion (i.e. vitamin C and glucose are almost identical in structure)

  • As with any intravenous injection, infiltration or vein irritation is possible

Basic Facts – Intravenous vs. Oral

  • Vitamin C levels in the body are tightly controlled by the bowels and the kidney’s (i.e. the body gets rid of it quickly)

  • Even by taking up to 18000mg per day orally in divided doses throughout the day, the blood levels do not change and do not exceed 0.2 mMol/L

  • Intravenous vitamin C bypasses the tight control by the body leading to a 70-fold higher blood levels with only a 2000mg injection

  • A simple injection of 5000mg of vitamin C produces a blood value of 3mMol/L and the research has shown that you can kill abnormal cells in the laboratory with values between 0.5 to 3mMol/L

Safety of Intravenous Vitamin C:

A 2010 study evaluating the use of vitamin C amongst practitioners revealed, after calculating over 750,000 yearly sales and estimated yearly doses of over 350,000 in 2008, and after evaluating over 9000 patients,  only minor side-effects were noted that  included lethargy/fatigue, change in mental status, and vein irriation.  Clinically, if these effects occur they are temporary and easily corrected.

Padayatty SJ et a. Vitamin C: intravenous use by complementary and alternative medicine practitioners and adverse effects.  PLoS One. 2010 Jul 7;5(7):e11414.

Overall Roles of Vitamin C:

  • Correction of possible vitamin C deficiency (i.e. fatigue, bleeding)

  • Immune-modulation / Immune system support

  • White blood cell support (they have 10-30x higher levels than the blood)

  • Wound healing support

  • Cytotoxic (i.e. stimulates hydrogen peroxide production)

  • Anti-angiogenesis
  • Hyaluronidase inhibition

  • Anti-inflammatory

  • Anti-stress and Anti-depressant properties