What is Vitamin IV therapy and how does it work?

Vitamin IV therapy is when, through an IV, vitamins and minerals are directly introduced into the bloodstream. Read on to learn more
A woman on a drip at the hospital
Vitamin IV therapy is great to to treat vitamin deficiencies and hydration. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Anjuri Nayar Singh Published: 11 May 2024, 07:51 pm IST
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Vitamins can be directly infused into the bloodstream through an IV. This is done to help replenish the fluid and blood volume, as well as provide medication directly in the blood. While vitamin IV therapy has several advantages, there are considerable risks associated with it as well, especially at the IV site. Therefore, it is very important to understand how to get this procedure done and what to take care of.

What is Vitamin IV therapy?

Vitamin IV (Intravenous) therapy involves delivering vitamins and minerals directly into the bloodstream via an IV drip. “Initially, IV vitamin therapy was used by doctors to treat nutritional deficiencies in people with malabsorption problems or who could not take supplements. However,  after COVID it has become a way to quickly restore nutrient levels and improve overall health,” says Dr Basavaraj S Kumbar, internal medicine.

The treatment takes between 30 minutes and 45 minutes, and flexible options. A person can choose specific nutrients or combinations such as electrolytes, glutathione, saline, and vitamins B12 and C, depending on the goal such as energy, radiance boost etc. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a nutrient will start to showcase its effects faster if it is directly infused into the bloodstream, rather than through oral medication.

How effective is Vitamin IV therapy?

Vitamin IV therapy’s effectiveness is debatable and understudied at this point. While strong research is required for claims such as immunity building, it may hydrate and deliver essential vitamins to those with digestive issues that prevent absorption. However, there are potential risks like overdose and allergic reactions. A study published in Pediatric Emergency Care also suggests that asthma can be treated with this therapy. “For most healthy people, a balanced diet is best for vitamins, and consulting a doctor is crucial to determine if IV therapy is truly necessary for you, considering both its potential benefits and drawbacks,” says Dr Kumbar.

Oranges and an IV
Vitamin IV therapy leads to rapid nutrient absorption by the body. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Benefits of vitamin IV therapy

1. Rapid nutrient absorption

The absorption of nutrients is more effective as well as faster when it is done through an IV, than oral medication. Research done by the University of Utah College of Pharmacy, suggests that vitamin IV therapy is a great way to give high doses of vitamins and minerals if one is looking for higher absorption.

2. Improved hydration

Vitamin IV therapy is not only a great to meet your minerals and vitamins requirement, but also to work on your hydration. Electrolytes are delivered into your body, from the vein in your arms. In this way, it can increase energy levels as well. It may also provide potential relief from hangovers or jet lag.

3. Enhanced immune function

While there is more research needed to substantiate this claim, it is widely believed that vitamin IV therapy helps build immunity. The IV contains essential vitamins and minerals required by the body.  Infusions of vitamin C, zinc as well as an Amino acid blend are used for immunity.

4. Great for digestive issues

If you are suffering from a digestive problem, then vitamin IV therapy can be beneficial in helping you get nutrients directly into your bloodstream. According to research done by the University of Utah College of Pharmacy, this therapy helps to eliminate toxins from the body.

Is vitamin IV therapy safe? Risks of vitamin IV therapy

Yes, it is generally considered safe, but there are a few risks attached with the therapy.

  • Overdose: High doses of vitamins can overwhelm your body and lead to toxicity.
  • Imbalance: IV fluids can disrupt the balance of electrolytes in your body, causing serious health problems.
  • Infection at injection site: There’s a risk of infection at the insertion site or from contaminated fluids.
  • Allergy: Allergic reactions to the vitamins or other ingredients in the solution can occur.
  • Untrained Professionals: Improper administration by untrained professionals can damage blood vessels or nerves.
  • Unnecessary Procedure: For most healthy people, vitamin IV therapy is unnecessary and exposes them to risks.

How often do you need this therapy?

The frequency of vitamin IV therapy depends on your individual needs and goals. Here’s a breakdown:

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  • General wellness: Approximately, once every two weeks to once a month is typical.
  • Chronic conditions: Weekly sessions might be recommended by your doctor.
  • Specific needs: The frequency can vary depending on the vitamins used and the condition being addressed.
An arm with a drip on it
While getting vitamin IV therapy done, one needs to be careful about cleaning the IV site clean and hygienic. Image courtesy: Freepik

Do you need to take supplements with this therapy?

While vitamin IV therapy delivers high doses of vitamins directly into your bloodstream for near-complete absorption, typically you won’t need additional supplements. “This is because IV therapy bypasses the digestive system, unlike oral supplements, and can be tailored to address your specific needs,” says Dr Kumbar. However, if you have a diagnosed deficiency or need long-term maintenance, your doctor might recommend additional supplements to fill any gaps.

What to remember before getting this therapy done?

Here are some key things to remember before getting vitamin IV therapy:

  • Hydrate: Drink plenty of water beforehand to make vein access easier and improve your experience.
  • Eat a light meal: Don’t go on an empty stomach but avoid a heavy meal that might make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Discuss your health: Inform your doctor about any underlying conditions, medications you take, and allergies you have.
  • Know the risks: Be aware of potential side effects like vitamin overdose, electrolyte imbalance, or allergic reactions.
  • Consider it only if you need it: A balanced diet often provides enough vitamins for healthy people. Discuss with your doctor if IV therapy is truly necessary.
  • Know the vitamin levels: Have a vitamin composition of the body done to avoid overdose.

Who should avoid vitamin IV therapy?

Vitamin IV therapy isn’t suitable for everyone. People with certain medical conditions should avoid this. “This includes those with kidney disease, heart problems, or iron overload (hemochromatosis). Their bodies may struggle to process the high vitamin doses or become overloaded with minerals,” explains Dr Kumbar.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should refrain as well. The safety of IV therapy for these groups isn’t fully established, so it’s best to avoid it unless a doctor deems it absolutely necessary. People with G6PD deficiency (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) should also not get this therapy done. “This genetic condition affects red blood cells and can worsen with certain vitamins in IV therapy,” says Dr Kumbar. Some medications can interact with the vitamins in the IV solution, so consulting your doctor is crucial.

 

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About the Author

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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