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Better mood experienced by hospitalized patients treated with vitamin C

Better mood experienced by hospitalized patients treated with vitamin C

Friday, August 2, 2013. A trial conducted by researchers at McGill University and Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, reported online on June 24, 2013 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found improvements in mood and distress among acutely ill hospitalized patients supplemented with vitamin C.

The double-blinded trial randomized 52 acutely hospitalized men and women to receive 500 milligrams vitamin C twice daily or 5,000 international units (IU) vitamin D per day for a maximum of ten days. Seventy-five percent of the participants had insufficient vitamin C levels and 85% had insufficient 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations at the beginning of the study. Mood and distress, which are significantly affected by acute hospitalization, and plasma vitamin C, vitamin D and C-reactive protein levels were evaluated before and after treatment.

At the end of the trial, vitamin C levels had normalized and vitamin D levels increased slightly, but did not reach normal values. Mood and distress scores markedly improved among those who received vitamin C, but did not appear to be significantly affected by vitamin D—a fact that the researchers attribute to the failure of short-term vitamin D therapy to normalize insufficient vitamin D levels. Participants who received vitamin C experienced a 71% reduction in mood disturbance and a 51% reduction in psychological stress in comparison with levels determined by testing at the beginning of the study.

In their introduction to the article, authors L. John Hoffer and colleagues remark that decreased levels of vitamins C and D are widely prevalent in acute care hospitals, yet few patients are given vitamin supplements. They note that a deficiency of vitamin C has been linked with fatigue and mood disturbance, and reduced levels of vitamin D are associated with cognitive dysfunction.

"This research confirms several earlier reports that document an extremely high prevalence of hypovitaminosis C and D in acutely hospitalized patients," the authors write. "Because this information has been restricted almost entirely to nutrition journals, it remains unknown to most physicians."

"Because of its long and variable half-life, future clinical trials of in-hospital vitamin D therapy will require the development and validation of a safe and effective ultrahigh loading dose protocol," they conclude.

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Vitamin C critical for developing fetal brain

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Findings from a study of guinea pigs published on October 31, 2012 in the journal PLoS One reveal a significant role for vitamin C in fetal brain development. Guinea pigs, along with humans, cannot manufacture their own vitamin C, which makes them a useful animal model of ascorbate deficiency.

Professor Jens Lykkesfeldt and his associates at the University of Copenhagen divided 80 pregnant guinea pigs to receive a diet that contained a high or low amount of vitamin C. Upon their birth, pups from each group of mothers were also divided to receive diets containing high or low levels of the vitamin.

Upon examination of the pups' brains it was found that those born to vitamin C deficient mothers had a reduction in volume in the hippocampus, an area involved in memory. Supplementing these pups with vitamin C after birth did not appear to undo the damage done by their prenatal environment.

"Even marginal vitamin C deficiency in the mother stunts the fetal hippocampus, the important memory centre, by 10-15 per cent, preventing the brain from optimal development," Professor Lykkesfeldt noted. "We used to think that the mother could protect the baby. Ordinarily there is a selective transport from mother to fetus of the substances the baby needs during pregnancy. However, it now appears that the transport is not sufficient in the case of vitamin C deficiency. Therefore it is extremely important to draw attention to this problem, which potentially can have serious consequences for the children affected."

"People with low economic status who eat poorly - and perhaps also smoke - often suffer from vitamin C deficiency," he added. "Because it takes so little to avoid vitamin C deficiency, it is my hope that both politicians and the authorities will become aware that this can be a potential problem."

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