Vitamin drips, also known as vitamin IV drips, are more than a celebrity wellness trend. They are also a highly effective treatment for patients with serious medical conditions. In fact, high-dose Vitamin C IV treatment is currently being trialed in the U.S. as a potential treatment for patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms.
If you or your loved one has been referred for vitamin IV therapy, you may be wondering what it is and how it can help with recovery. In this article, we’ll break down everything you need to know about vitamin drips. We’ll explore how IV drips help the body absorb vital nutrients; the conditions that most benefit from a vitamin IV and the different vitamins and minerals commonly administered by IV.
What is a vitamin drip?
While vitamin drips have been touted as the cure for everything from fatigue to bad skin, they have long been used to treat deficiencies and other serious medical conditions. Simply put, a vitamin drip is a medical treatment in which the patient receives vitamins via a small tube inserted into a vein (IV). Treatment can last anywhere between 20 minutes to an hour and may need to be repeated frequently.
The safe administration of a vitamin drip requires a trained medical professional. They are in frequent use in hospitals, short and long-term rehabilitation centers, long-term nursing facilities, and at home for patients undergoing hospice care or palliative care.
How do IV drips help the body absorb vitamins?
Whereas oral vitamins get broken down by the stomach and digestive tract, vitamin IV drips absorb directly into the bloodstream. As a result, the absorption rate for vitamins given by IV is up to 40% higher. This means that IV vitamins are a quick and effective way to get necessary vitamins into a patient’s cells. They can deliver higher concentrations of vitamins at one time and also allow for more precise dosing. They may also be recommended for patients who have tried oral supplements but have not responded well. Finally, IV drips help ensure sufficient vitamin levels in patients who are not able to swallow or digest vitamins by mouth.
What conditions benefit from vitamin IVs?
Vitamin drips are used for a wide range of conditions. Some of the most common applications are, of course, vitamin deficiencies, which can be the result of dietary issues, gastrointestinal disease, certain chronic illnesses, and even dementia.
However, vitamin drips can also be an effective component of treatment for chronic or severe wounds, recovery from surgery, renal disease, migraines, and bacterial or viral infections such as pneumonia or severe sinusitis.
Which vitamins and minerals are used in IV therapy?
Some of the most common vitamins and minerals given by IV include magnesium, calcium, vitamin B, zinc, arginine, glutamine, and vitamin C. The vitamins included in a vitamin drip depend on the treatment the patient needs.
For example, magnesium has been administered via an IV to effectively treat very severe asthma. Magnesium may also be given via IV to treat eclampsia during pregnancy. It is an important component of our biochemical reactions, including muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation.
Vitamin B complex is sometimes given via IV to patients with gastrointestinal conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, which limits their ability to absorb nutrients from their diet. Vitamin B plays a key role in preventing or healing infections and is also important to nerve and brain function, cardiovascular health, hormones and cholesterol, and overall physical well-being. Vitamin B-12 is also administered via IV, together with folic acid, to treat end-stage renal disease.
For patients with chronic or non-healing wounds, such as pressure ulcers and severe burns, vitamin IV therapy is sometimes used to help improve their immune function and support wound healing. For these patients, the IV may contain a combination of many different vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, zinc, arginine, and glutamine.
When do you need a Vitamin C drip?
Vitamin C drips are widely used in patient rehabilitation and treatment. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant and also plays a key role in making collagen. When administered by IV, vitamin C can reach much higher concentrations in the blood than when taken orally.
Vitamin C drips may be used to treat nutritional deficiencies, including malnutrition or malabsorption. A lack of vitamin C can cause scurvy, which has serious symptoms, including poor wound healing, joint pain, bleeding gums, and fatigue.
For patients undergoing total parenteral nutrition (TPN), vitamin C will usually be included in their IV drip. High-dose vitamin C drips have also been used as a complementary treatment to support wound healing, reduce infections, and improve immune function.
Most recently, vitamin C IV drips are being tested as a treatment for COVID-19. The researchers hope that the anti-viral and immune-supporting properties of vitamin C might help patients recover more quickly from COVID-19 infections and, in particular, address the “cytokine storm” that can occur in the later cycle of the disease.