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What Are the Risks of Vitamin Injections?

By Mike Howells
Updated May 17, 2024
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Vitamin injections are doses of one or more vitamin supplements injected directly into the body. They are used administer a dosage too great to be taken orally. This kind of therapy is controversial because injected vitamins can carry a number of risks related to both the method of injection and the dosage size.

Generally speaking, humans are capable of obtaining required levels of vitamins by maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. Oral vitamin supplements, typically in tablet form, can help bolster the intake of particular nutrients. The digestive process is capable of filtering any excess dosage of such vitamins and processes the necessary amounts in a healthy manner.

Vitamin injections are traditionally prescribed in cases where a patient cannot ingest food by mouth. They are accompanied by intravenous glucose treatments to provide calories as well. Unlike a vaccination where the dose is administered in a single shot, vitamin injections are given as part of a saline mix through an intravenous drip.

The body is far less capable of dealing with excess nutrients when injected directly into the bloodstream. As a result, vitamin injections must be strictly dosed. Digestion can evacuate excessive amounts of a given vitamin when taken orally, but the same level of overdose can be toxic when injected.

Since the late 1990s, vitamin injections have become increasingly something of a health fad, originating with Hollywood celebrities and athletes. Common types of vitamins that are injected include A, D, K, and those on the B spectrum, such as B12. These vitamins, respectively, are known for helping vision, bone density, blood coagulation, and boosting the immune system.

So-called vitamin cafes have popped up since the 1990s, offering a casual venue for receiving intravenous drip packs. A range of vitamin "packages" are offered that are advertised as boosting brain activity, metabolism, the immune system, and other bodily functions. These packages are marketed in much the same way as health drinks and other supplements.

Overdosing on vitamin injections can result in a number of both mild and severe health problems. Jaundice, cramping, and nausea are some of the more mild side effects. Liver and kidney damage, or death in extreme cases, can also occur. Health officials warn the highest-risk vitamins are A, D, E and K because they are fat-soluble and are stored in the body's tissue rather than breaking down naturally.

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