Vitamin C Injections for Fatigue
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?") may not be a doctor's grin anymore! High dose intravenous vitamin C reduces fatigue significantly, suggests new research. It is both safe and effective against fatigue.
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 fatigue.
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.
Reference: Intravenous Vitamin C Administration Reduces Fatigue in Office Workers: A Double-blind Randomized Controlled Trial; Sang Yeon et al; BMC Nutrition Journal 2012.