The answer to one of the
commonest questions raised at primary care clinics ("Doc, I'm too tired; do you have any injection for that?")
be a doctor's grin anymore! High dose intravenous vitamin C reduces
fatigue significantly, suggests new research. It is both safe and effective
Intravenous vitamin C
administration was found to reduce fatigue in office workers. The clinical
trial that enrolled 141 healthy volunteers aged 20 to 49 years is probably the
first of its kind to yield a consistent result.
Oxidative stress is
believed to be cause of fatigue, one of the most common complaints in daily
life. Fatigue is highly prevalent in full-time workers. Weakness following
physical activity and joint pain are common symptoms of chronic fatigue
syndrome. Serum markers called reactive oxygen species (ROS) and cytokines are
elevated in oxidative stress, and these are known to be associated with the
symptoms of fatigue.
Vitamin C is well known
for its antioxidant property. Its clinical role in reducing oxidative stress
has been proved in several clinical studies. Vitamin C treatment relieves
muscle pain; it also reduces the toxicity of some anticancer drugs.
Unfortunately the concept of vitamin C supplementation to cure fatigue, the
underlying cause of which is oxidative stress, never bore fruit. None of the
previous studies yielded consistent results. One of the prime causes of
inconsistency was route of administration.
Oral administration of
vitamin C produces little improvement in plasma vitamin C levels. This is
because when it is taken orally, vitamin C undergoes extensive metabolism. Most
of the drug is lost in this process. Intravenous route of administration, that
is injecting the drug directly into the vein, ensures that the entire drug
given is available to bring about the necessary effect.
The current study
evaluated the efficacy of vitamin C when administered through veins. Apparently
healthy full-time workers aged 20 to 49 years volunteered for the trial.
Participants were randomized into two groups. They received a single
intravenous injection of either vitamin C (10g) or normal saline. The
variables like fatigue score, oxidative stress, and plasma vitamin C levels
were measured before the injection, and again two hours and one day after.
Intravenous vitamin C
reduced fatigue at two hours. This effect persisted for one day and was
particularly observed in people with low baseline vitamin C levels. No
significant adverse events were reported by the trial. Researchers hence
concluded that high dose intravenous vitamin C is safe and effective against
However, the study was
conducted only on healthy individuals and over a very short period. Further
studies are required to establish the role of intravenous vitamin C in fatigue.
Intravenous Vitamin C Administration Reduces Fatigue in Office Workers: A
Double-blind Randomized Controlled Trial; Sang Yeon et al; BMC Nutrition