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Could Vitamin C Improve the Mood of Hospitalized Patients?

By Jessica Patella, ND abstracted from “Vitamin C provision improves the mood in acutely hospitalized patients”, in the August 4, 2010 issue of Nutrition.

Key words: vitamin C, vitamin D, mood, and hospitalization

Vitamin C deficiency is widespread in acutely hospitalized patients (1). A deficiency in vitamin C can lead to mood changes, such as irritability (2). For this reason, researchers wanted to determine if supplementing with vitamin C could improve the overall mood of acutely hospitalized patients (3). The researchers found vitamin C supplementation did help improve the mood of patients (3).

Over a 6-week period, all patients on eight active medical and surgical teaching units of a university hospital were considered for enrollment. A total of 32 patients were enrolled in the study and were randomly assigned to receive either vitamin C or vitamin D. Vitamin D was chosen as an alternative treatment because, like vitamin C, deficiency is widespread and it has been linked to abnormal mood (3).

Blood concentrations of vitamin C and vitamin D were collected before supplementation and at the end of the supplementation period. Patients in the vitamin C group received 500 mg of vitamin C twice daily. Patients in the vitamin D group received 1000 IU of vitamin D twice daily. Supplementation lasted between 5-10 days, depending on how long the patient was enrolled in the hospital. The Profile of Mood States (POMS), a 65-item questionnaire that is widely used to measure mood states, was completed before and after the supplementation period.

Initial blood results showed 62.5% of the patients had vitamin C depletion (<28.4 micro-mol/L), 12.5% were deficient in vitamin C (<11.4 micro-mol/L), and 81% were deficient in vitamin D (<75 nmol/L) (3). After the supplementation period, over an average of 8.7 days, vitamin C levels more than tripled (94.6 +/- 35.5 micro-mol/L; p<0.0001) and were no longer in the deficient or depleted range for the vitamin C group. And vitamin D levels increased by 20% (p=0.0004), although they still remained at deficient levels (<75 nmol/L) in the vitamin D group (3). Improvement in mood was only seen in the vitamin C group, with a 34% decrease in mood disturbance (p=0.013).

In conclusion, vitamin C supplementation did improve the mood of acutely hospitalized patients (3). The study was limited in the number of patients enrolled, but laid the groundwork for future research.


1. Fain O, et al. Hypovitaminosis C in hospitalized patients. Eur J Internal Med 2003; 14:419-25.
2. Ascorbic Acid. Merck Manual. http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec12/ch154/ch154i.html
3. Zhang M, et al. Vitamin c provision improves mood in acutely hospitalized patients. Nutrition 2010. Doi:10.1016/j.nut.2010.05.016