What is IV Vitamin C?

Erin J. Hill

Intravenous (IV) vitamin C is a high potency dosage of the vitamin given through tubes inserted directly into a vein. It is generally used for those who have a deficiency or in the treatment of certain illnesses. IV vitamin C is better absorbed by the body than oral varieties, especially when being given in high doses.

Hanging IV bag of vitamin C.
Hanging IV bag of vitamin C.

The use of IV vitamin C is controversial. Studies have shown that it is effective at initiating or intensifying the body’s natural immune response when it comes to certain diseases or illnesses, but results have been inconclusive with other diseases. It is also used when treating a severe vitamin C deficiency, although this is rare in industrialized countries.

An intravenous insertion site on the forearm.
An intravenous insertion site on the forearm.

In some countries IV vitamin C is routinely used for the treatment of a wide array of health conditions. Pneumonia, influenza, and H1N1 have all been treated using intravenous vitamin C. It works by strengthening the body’s natural immunities so that they can effectively fight the virus or infection causing symptoms.

This same principle also applies when IV vitamin C is used in the treatment of cancer. Some studies have shown that high amounts of vitamin C can cause the body’s white blood cells to work more efficiently. These cells fight off infections, but they also fight off and destroy cancerous and pre-cancerous cells. Not only that, but since the immune system is strengthened, cancer patients using this method of treatment may be more resistant to additional illnesses than those who undergo more conventional therapies.

IV vitamin C is not widely available in all areas. Its effectiveness is the topic of debate, despite studies which have shown its used to be promising in the treatment of various illnesses. Patients who want to try this form of treatment rather than conventional interventions may have to relocate to do so, although it is becoming more readily available as additional studies are performed.

Patients should not attempt to self treat using oral vitamin C. The body can only absorb certain amounts of vitamins and nutrients at one time when they are ingested orally, so even high doses of vitamin C pills or capsules will not be as beneficial as IV vitamin C in the treatment of illness. For prevention, patients should ask their doctors about maximum dosage safety standards. They should also find out how much vitamin C can be taken at once orally and still be used by the body effectively. Dosages may need to be broken up into several daily doses.

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