High Dose Intravenous Vitamin C (Ascorbate) Found to Be Remarkably Safe

A study was conducted recently by the Molecular and Clinical Nutrition Section at the NIDDK on Vitamin C. It was designed to assess the use and safety of high-dose intravenous (IV) vitamin C administration by complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practitioners.

The authors found that a) high-dose IV vitamin C is widely used by CAM practitioners, most commonly in the treatment of patients with infection, cancer, or fatigue; and b) aside from already known complications of IV vitamin C in patients with renal impairment or glucose 6 phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency, high-dose IV vitamin C use was found to be “remarkably safe.” Of 199 practitioners who responded to a survey, 172 administered IV vitamin C to their patients, totaling 11,233 in the year 2006 and 8,876 in the year 2008. On average, the dose administered was 28 grams every 4 days, with a total of 22 treatments per patient.

Data from 9,328 patients was available, and of these patients, 101 were found to have mostly minor side effects including lethargy/fatigue in 59 patients, change in mental status in 21 patients, and vein irritation/phlebitis in 6 patients. Regarding serious adverse events, the authors found that there had been 2 deaths, both in patients known to be at risk for IV vitamin C. The authors conclude, “Physicians should inquire about IV vitamin C use in patients with cancer, chronic, untreatable, or intractable conditions and be observant of unexpected harm, drug interactions, or benefit.”

So how much is good for you?
Based on an individual’s health status, ascorbate needs vary widely. The more the antioxidant need for a person, the higher the requirement for ascorbate.