In a clinical study, 55 mentally competent patients were admitted to a non-ICU medical or surgical ward of a university teaching hospital in Canada and were randomly assigned to receive, in double-blind fashion, 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day or 1000 IU of vitamin D twice a day for up to 10 days.
Patients who were already receiving supplemental vitamin D on admission were assigned to the vitamin C group. Prior to treatment, 56% of the patients had a moderately low plasma vitamin C concentration and 9% had a very low level. Thirty-two patients completed the study (i.e., they received treatment for at least 5 days).
Among those 32 patients, there was a mean improvement of 34% (p = 0.013) in the score on the Profile of Mood States (a questionnaire that measures mood). No improvement of mood was seen in the vitamin D group.
Acutely and chronically ill patients often have suboptimal or deficient levels of vitamin C. Poor vitamin C status can result in decreased resistance against infection, impaired wound healing, and other abnormalities that would delay recovery in the hospital. The present study demonstrates that vitamin C supplementation improves mood in hospitalized patients, which may enhance recover, or at least make hospitalization more tolerable. A case can be made that most patients should receive supplemental vitamin C upon admission to the hospital.