The April 2019 issue of Nutrients published the findings of a meta-analysis which concluded that the administration of vitamin C to intensive care unit (ICU) patients shortened the patients’ stay by an average of 7.8%.
Dr Harri Hemilä of the University of Helsinki, Finland, and Dr Elizabeth Chalker of the University of Sydney, Australia, selected 12 controlled trials that included a total of 2,004 patients for their analysis. While subjects who received orally administered vitamin C had an ICU stay that was 7.8% shorter than that of patients who did not receive the vitamin, patients in six trials who received an average dose of two grams per day of vitamin C had their ICU stay reduced by 8.6%.
Among trials that included patients who required more than 24 hours mechanical ventilation, treatment with vitamin C was associated with an 18.2% reduction in ventilation duration. The finding suggests that vitamin C’s benefits might be greater for patients who have more severe illnesses.
“Vitamin C is a safe, low-cost essential nutrient,” Drs Hemilä and Chalker commented. “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 6 and 8 grams per day. Evidently the dose response for doses higher than 2 grams per day should also be investigated for ICU patients.”
“Vitamin C costs only pennies per gram, whereas one day in the ICU may cost thousands of dollars; therefore, an 8% decrease in ICU stay from the administration of 2 grams/day of vitamin C warrants further research,” the authors concluded.