Vitamin C is considered an all-purpose wonder vitamin that helps with a long list of ailments. Now a study from Finland has shown it can reduce the amount of time a patient spends in the Intensive Care Unit at the hospital.
Researchers analyzed 12 trials with a total of 1,766 patients and found those given vitamin C supplementation had their length of stay in the ICU shortened by an average of eight percent regardless of their reason for being hospitalized. The results of the report were recently published in the journal Nutrients.
Vitamin C is vital for several bodily functions. It has been shown effective in other trials to lower blood pressure, decrease the incidence of atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), decrease constricted airways, decrease pain, shorten the duration of colds and lower glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.
It is not uncommon to see very low vitamin C plasma levels in hospital patients and physiological stress in the form of infections, surgery, trauma and burns can cause vitamin C levels to decline dramatically. It takes as little as 0.1 grams per day to maintain normal vitamin C plasma levels in healthy people. Critically ill patients need up to four grams per day to increase their levels into the normal range.
Realizing that and understanding the need for vitamin C supplementation in those situations led researchers Dr. Harri Hemilä from the University of Helsinki in Finland, and Dr. Elizabeth Chalker from the University of Sydney in Australia to analyze the effect of adding a vitamin C regimen to ICU patients.
They conducted a systematic review of vitamin C for ICU patients by breaking down previously conducted controlled trials. They found on average vitamin C reduced the length of ICU stay by 7.8 percent. Six trials included orally administered vitamin C with an average dose of two grams per day and in those the average stay was reduced by 8.6 percent.
Hemilä and Chalker said: "Vitamin C is a safe, low-cost essential nutrient. Given the consistent evidence from the trials published so far, vitamin C might be administered to ICU patients, although further studies are needed to find out optimal protocols for its administration. A few common cold studies have indicated that there may be a linear dose response for vitamin C on common cold duration for up to six and eight grams per day. Evidently, the dose response for doses higher than two grams per day should also be investigated for ICU patients."