Vitamin C May Improve Mood in Acutely Hospitalized Patients
October 4, 2010 — Vitamin C therapy may improve mood in acutely hospitalized patients, according to the results of a small, double-blind clinical trial reported online September 23 in Nutrition.
“Earlier studies, both in our hospital and in other centres, demonstrated that the majority of acutely hospitalized patients have subnormal levels of vitamins C and D in their blood,” said senior author L. John Hoffer, MD, PhD, an investigator at the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research and a professor of medicine at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, in a news release.
“About one in five acute-care patients in our hospital have vitamin C levels so low as to be compatible with scurvy, [but] patients are rarely given vitamin supplements.”
“Most physicians are simply unaware of the problem,” Dr. Hoffer continued. “Subclinical deficiencies of vitamin C and D have each been linked to psychological abnormalities, so we examined that aspect in our clinical trial.”
Both hypovitaminosis C and D are widespread among acutely hospitalized patients, but it was previously unknown if these biochemical abnormalities were of any clinical significance. The goal of this study was to assess whether provision of vitamins C and D could improve the mood state of acutely hospitalized patients.
Using a validated instrument, the Profile of Mood States, the investigators studied the effect of vitamin C (500 mg twice daily) or vitamin D (1000 IU twice daily) on mood in acutely hospitalized patients. Of 88 patients considered for inclusion in the study, 55 were eligible, and 32 completed the study.
Vitamin C supplementation was associated with increased vitamin C concentrations in plasma (P < .0001) and mononuclear leukocytes (P = .014), as well as with a 34% decrease in mood disturbance (P = .013). Although vitamin D supplementation was associated with increased plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations (P = .0004), there was no significant effect on mood.
“The lack of any effect of vitamin D on mood is good evidence we are not dealing with a placebo response,” Dr. Hoffer said. “This looks like a true biological effect.”
Limitations of this study include small sample size, study dropout, and patient heterogeneity. In addition, 5 of the 32 study participants had already been prescribed a vitamin D supplement by their physician at the time of enrollment, and these patients were automatically assigned to the vitamin C treatment group.
“Our finding definitely requires follow up in larger studies in other centres,” Dr. Hoffer concluded. “[Vitamin C] treatment is safe, simple and cheap, and could have major clinical practice implications.”
This study was supported by the Lotte and John Hecht Memorial Foundation, a grant from McGill University, and a medical student research bursary from the Faculty of Medicine, McGill University.
Nutrition. Published online September 23, 2010. Abstract