Archive for September, 2010

Vitamin C, not D, helps acute-care hospital patients

September 28th, 2010

Over the past few years, I’ve become increasingly skeptical about the benefits of taking vitamin C (and other antioxidant) supplements. On the other hand, vitamin D research has looked increasingly promising. So here’s a study from Montreal’s Jewish General Hospital that suggests I should keep my mind open:

In a double-blind clinical trial, patients admitted to the JGH were randomly assigned to receive either vitamin C or vitamin D supplements for seven to ten days. Patients administered vitamin C had a rapid and statistically and clinically significant improvement in mood state, but no significant change in mood occurred with vitamin D, the researchers discovered.

Now, this is a fairly specific population being studied, so the results aren’t generalizable. Apparently about 20% of the acute-care patients in that hospital “have vitamin C levels so low as to be compatible with scurvy,” so it’s not surprising that vitamin C helped. Ultimately, this is simply more evidence that supplements are useful for treating deficiencies; it doesn’t say anything about whether supplements provide any benefits for healthy people.