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Better mood experienced by hospitalized patients treated with vitamin C

A trial conducted by researchers at McGill University and Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, reported online on June 24, 2013 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found improvements in mood and distress among acutely ill hospitalized patients supplemented with vitamin C.

The double-blinded trial randomized 52 acutely hospitalized men and women to receive 500 milligrams vitamin C twice daily or 5,000 international units (IU) vitamin D per day for a maximum of ten days. Seventy-five percent of the participants had insufficient vitamin C levels and 85% had insufficient 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations at the beginning of the study. Mood and distress, which are significantly affected by acute hospitalization, and plasma vitamin C, vitamin D and C-reactive protein levels were evaluated before and after treatment.

At the end of the trial, vitamin C levels had normalized and vitamin D levels increased slightly, but did not reach normal values. Mood and distress scores markedly improved among those who received vitamin C, but did not appear to be significantly affected by vitamin D—a fact that the researchers attribute to the failure of short-term vitamin D therapy to normalize insufficient vitamin D levels. Participants who received vitamin C experienced a 71% reduction in mood disturbance and a 51% reduction in psychological stress in comparison with levels determined by testing at the beginning of the study.

In their introduction to the article, authors L. John Hoffer and colleagues remark that decreased levels of vitamins C and D are widely prevalent in acute care hospitals, yet few patients are given vitamin supplements. They note that a deficiency of vitamin C has been linked with fatigue and mood disturbance, and reduced levels of vitamin D are associated with cognitive dysfunction.

“This research confirms several earlier reports that document an extremely high prevalence of hypovitaminosis C and D in acutely hospitalized patients,” the authors write. “Because this information has been restricted almost entirely to nutrition journals, it remains unknown to most physicians.”

“Because of its long and variable half-life, future clinical trials of in-hospital vitamin D therapy will require the development and validation of a safe and effective ultrahigh loading dose protocol,” they conclude.