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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.

REFERENCES:

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