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News - Vitamin C may improve mood for those in hospital

By Holly Taylor BSC(Hons) DipCNM MBANT NTCC

A new study published in the journal Nutrition suggests that supplementation with vitamin C could improve the emotional state of hospitalised patients. According to the lead researcher Dr John Hoffer, Professor of Medicine at McGill University, Canada, about one in five acute care patients in our hospitals have low vitamin C levels and “most physicians are simply unaware of the problem”.

The term hypovitaminosis C usually implies a deficiency in vitamin C intake. However, low vitamin C levels can also occur during times of inflammation, as the vitamin C is diverted into the immune system. What’s more, previous research has highlighted that psychological abnormalities are a known feature of vitamin C deficiency and that increased vitamin C is associated with reductions in mood disturbance.

In this new trial, the scientists wanted to test the effects of vitamin C supplementation on mood using a more robust, double-blind clinical trial. To carry out the trial, they enrolled 32 patients from eight different hospitals and divided them into two groups. One group received 500mg of vitamin C twice daily for 5-10 days, while the other group were given 1000iu of vitamin D twice a day for 5-10 days. Before and after the supplementation period, participants were asked to complete a mood assessment questionnaire and give a blood sample.

The results showed that both supplements helped to top up the patients’ blood levels of the vitamins and that the vitamin C had the added benefit of improving the participants’ mood scores by 34% – a result that is similar to the findings of earlier studies. The authors suggested that sub-normal vitamin C concentrations may adversely affect brain functions and mood, and that replenishment could improve patients’ emotional state. Dr Hoffer also added: “The lack of any effect of vitamin D on mood is good evidence we are not dealing with a placebo response.”

Article References

J Hoffer et al. Vitamin C provision improves mood in acutely hospitalized patients. Nutrition. 2010. [Epub ahead of print].

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