Juicing isn’t the only way to get your daily dose of vitamin C. For A-listers like Katy Perry, Madonna and Cara Delevingne, high-dose vitamin infusions via intravenous drips are a quick and (relatively) painless way to stock up on supplements while flushing away ailments – from hangovers and jet lag to cellulite and acne.
“The main principle behind IV vitamin therapy is you’re bypassing the digestive system,” says naturopathic expert Dr. Amauri Caversan of Toronto’s the IV Lounge, a Yorkville-based vitamin therapy clinic. “You are delivering high doses of nutrients that cling to the bloodstream.”
A new route
Whether they’re ingested via fruits and vegetables or in pill form, vitamins and minerals must first pass through your gastrointestinal tract before being absorbed. Vitamin drips, meanwhile, go directly into the bloodstream, which means they’re a quicker and more efficient way of loading up on nutrients. “You can only absorb an average of 300 mg of vitamin C every three hours,” says Dr. Caversan. “With IV treatments, I can easily give someone 15 or 25 g of vitamin C. Those are thresholds you’ll never be able to achieve via oral supplementation.”
Stars, like many of us, are constantly on the go. Rihanna and Gwyneth Paltrow use vitamin drips to re-energize boost their immunity. Dr. Caversan says these types of drips are his most popular. Still, the sweet spot of IV vitamin therapy lies in the practitioner’s ability to create a custom cocktail of vitamins and minerals that target a client’s specific needs.
New York City’s Hangover Club offers an on-demand van service that will drive to a client’s home within 45 minutes to administer one of four drips loaded with vitamin B1 (thiamine), C and folic acid, which, since alcohol is a diuretic, are known to help with the dehydrating effects of one too many glasses of wine. Or, at their IV Lounge for clients looking for stronger and healthier hair, skin and nails, a drip heavy on the biotin is recom- mended. “It contains biotin, amino acid, vitamin C, zinc and B2 – all the things that we know support collagen production are in that cocktail,” says Dr. Caversan.
If you’re looking to fight the signs of aging, boost your immune system during flu season or detoxify after a month of holiday partying, there’s a cocktail for you. At a cost of $145 to $180 a visit, IV vitamin therapy is pricier than a trip to the produce market, however the drawbacks are few – from a small risk of infection to the rare allergic reaction.
Most drips last around 75 minutes (a small bag contains 500 ml of fluid; a large one weighs in at two litres), you can load up on your lunch break. Whether or not you’ll notice the effects before you return to your desk depends on the type of drip and your current state of health. Some clients notice results immediately while others need additional sittings before a change is felt. Most patients do report an instant calming sensation thanks to the addition of magnesium, which is known in some circles as a relaxation mineral.
The jury is still out on whether IV vitamin therapy is as good as it sounds, mainly due to lack of research into the matter. “It’s not well known in medical literature,” says Dr. David Jenkins, Canada research chair in Nutrition and Metabolism, University of Toronto. “In other words, we haven’t yet got to that stage where we are using these things therapeutically.” He doesn’t discount the practice; he just wants to be able to see reproducible experiments and published research. “Whether you need more nutrients than a healthy gastro-intestinal tract can absorb is a mass amount of speculation. Some people will say that even taking vitamin supplements of any kind simply allows you to pass expensive urine!”
For Dr. Jenkins, there is no better way to load up on vitamins and minerals than with a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grain cereals. However, since not everybody is a fan of broccoli and carrots, perhaps just getting fruit-and-veggie-haters to incorporate some type of vitamins in whatever form–including intravenously–is a win.