Should We Be Using IV Drips to Get Our Vitamins?
It seems to be increasing in popularity on Instagram (in the UK), and you can find them in shopping centers, but should we be using Intravenous (IV) Vitamin Drips to get our vitamins in.
These drips are usually packed with vitamins which claim to give you energy; boost your immunity; are anti-aging; detoxifying; boost hair growth and skin health. These drips can cost hundreds of pounds, and in some cases, thousands!! But are they worth spending your money on?
IV drips are usually in a clinical setting, the last-line resort to enable a person to get the nutritional support if they are unable to absorb enough nutrients through their intestines to maintain health, either due to a non-functioning or unsafe gastrointestinal tract. The reason they are being promoted is that you get the full amount of the nutrient given via the IV directly into the bloodstream, bypassing the digestive tract completely.
When are IV Drips Given?
Usually the main place you will find IV drips given in a clinical setting is hospitals. This may be due to someone not being able to drink water (either during surgery, or due to vomiting); replace lost fluids; correcting chemical or metabolic imbalances (e.g. too much potassium); or manage hydration. IV nutrition will also be given to those who are too sick to eat, or if being treated for a nutrient deficiency, and are carefully assessed, tailored and monitored to the individual.
However, in a clinical setting, a person who is given a nutrition IV drip will have had a medical history taken, and a screening of the person’s liver and kidney function is also required before any vitamins are given by IV (NICE guidelines). This can be due to putting your liver and kidney under stress when vitamins are intravenously given.
When doing something with intravenous access, there is risk of infection at the injection, and also further risk of the infection going into the bloodstream. It may also cause inflammation or damage to the vein when it is inserted. Especially when they are done outside of a clinical setting and may not even be carried out by health care professionals.
With vitamins and minerals there is a risk that you may receive excessive amounts, which may have a negative impact on your health. It may also cause an imbalance of electrolytes in the blood which can disrupt our organs. Any excess amounts of water-soluble vitamins you’ll just pee out, as well.
Why Professional Medical Advice is Important
B12 jabs (intramuscular) have increased as well in popularity, but instead of going to someone who is not a doctor or health care professional and getting them to inject you, you should speak to your doctor first to see if you are B12 deficient, or take a supplement. Only use injections if your doctor refers you for one, in cases of B12 deficiency anaemia.
If you’re planning something to ‘detox’ you have your liver and kidney to help you out with this, not some IV drip, supplements, juices, or teas. Aim to:
- eat a healthy balanced diet
- get at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day
- eat 30g of fiber per day
- stay hydrated
- drink alcohol within moderation
- take part in physical activity
Most of us can get all the nutrients we need from a balanced diet. If you are concerned you are deficient in something, please go see your doctor who can give you the correct advice for what to do. Certain individuals may need to include supplementation whether it is due to following a vegan diet; being under the age of 5; planning a pregnancy or being pregnant; have a digestive disorder; or other medical conditions, but all of these should be advised by a health care professional, or check out the NHS for advice. In the UK one guideline is during the winter months we should all consider supplementing with 10mcg (400IU) of vitamin D from September to late March, as we cannot synthesize it from the sun. See here for more on this.
The chances are that IV nutrition drips will just make you have expensive urine, as water-soluble vitamins are excreted via this way if they are given in excess, but also there are risks to this method. If you have a working gastrointestinal tract that can absorb these nutrients, use it! Currently there are no regulatory processes governing the safety in clinics that offer these IV nutrient drips.
Daisy, MSc PGDip ANutr,
Is a Registered Associate Nutritionist with a Master's Degree in Public Health Nutrition, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Eating Disorders and Clinical Nutrition, both of which are Association for Nutrition (AFN) accredited. She, also, has a BSc degree in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience; and has completed an AFN accredited Diet Specialist Nutrition course. Daisy has worked for an NHS funded project, the Diabetes Prevention Programme; and shadowed a nutritionist in Harley Street, London
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