Injecting essential vitamins and minerals into the body

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The use of intravenous (IV) infusion therapy has been a critical part of patient care for decades, serving as a fast and reliable solution for dehydration, nutritional deficiencies and medication delivery to prevent or treat certain life-threatening conditions.

At present, it’s not uncommon to see IV therapy being used in a quasi-lifestyle health context, whether it is on-demand or mobile IV clinics that promise quick hangover cures, or wellness brands that promise to transform your health and vitality.

There are so many of these fad-like IV therapies that it can be tough to differentiate the ones that are credible – yes, some IV therapies can be really effective!

IV therapy has been appreciated by the medical establishment for years as a means for symptom management, and now it may finally be earning a place as a viable pathway for overall wellness and boosting the immune system as part of cancer treatments.

Below, we outline the backstory behind how nutritional IV therapy has grown in popularity (and relevance) and the many ways it supports improved health and wellness.

Therapeutic link

Nutritional IV therapy became popular due to the link between micronutrients and health challenges.

It’s essential to replenish water-soluble vitamins such as vitamins B and C every day.

Although these are easily available from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, we often don’t consume enough to meet the recommended daily intake of vitamins.

Some of our lifestyle choices like alcohol, excessive caffeine, stress and smoking may also be depleting the supply in our body.

The consequence is that when we fall sick, we may not have enough of these essential vitamins to hasten the healing process.

In recent decades, longevity and overall health have improved; however, micronutrient deficiency has increased.

A national survey conducted between 2003 and 2006 evaluated the health of 16,000 Americans and 19 micronutrients.

The results indicate that the adult population in the United States is deficient in essential vitamins and minerals, ranging from Vitamin B6 and niacin to copper, selenium, and vitamins A, C, D and E.

Being vitamin deficient leads to issues like increased inflammation, decreased immunity, surgical complications and impacted post-surgery recovery.

These deficiencies are also thought to be contributing to chronic disease, mental health issues and autoimmunity.

In 2012, the US-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that over half of the US population had diabetes or obesity, and over 50 million had an autoimmune disease.

If you consume more of certain foods like citrus fruits and vegetables, or take supplements, you can increase your vitamin intake, but there is a limit as to how much is okay before you experience stomach discomfort.You can get your nutrients from eating plenty of fruits and vegetables but there is a limit to how much you can eat.You can get your nutrients from eating plenty of fruits and vegetables but there is a limit to how much you can eat.

The amount of nutrients absorbed through the gut is often rather suboptimal due to a variety of digestive issues.

One method of ensuring we get substantial doses of essential vitamins is to inject it into our veins, a direct path to our system.

Nutritional IV therapy benefits

Nutritional IV therapy works well to deliver the right amount of vitamins needed by our body.

Improved absorption and bioavailability are key advantages of IV therapy, opening the door to better treatment options.

For example, the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey revealed that patients showed greater progress in areas of wound healing, fistula closure, nitrogen balance, strength and activity during recovery when they received micronutrients through IV therapy.

Outside the hospitals, IV therapy has shown even greater potential in its range of benefits.

Nutritional IV therapy is used every day by healthcare providers certified in its use to treat everything from allergic rhinitis and asthma to immune disorders, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, heavy metal toxicity, migraines, hormonal imbalances, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and more.

Nutritional IV therapy opens a new way to treatment for many patients who have trouble with oral medications or require a fast delivery of vitamins to boost the immune or help prevent jet lag.

Certainly, IV therapies help to optimise overall wellness, but they are also appropriate for patients with severe inflammatory responses, allergies, food intolerances, gastric bypass or gastritis.

Some common examples include:

> Iron for rectifying iron deficiency anaemia.

> Magnesium to help with hypertension and discourage eclampsia and premature labour.

> Energy and metabolism boosting treatments to prevent seasonal affective disorder (SAD,) depression, and to accelerate weight loss efforts.

> The use of potent vitamin and mineral combinations to treat post-operative malnutrition, especially after sleeve gastrectomy, banding or gastric bypass.

> Use of L-carnitine and other nutrients have been shown to reduce muscle fatigue and soreness post-workout in extreme athletes.

> Intravenous use of sodium edetate to aid in detox from heavy metals.

> Short-term IV therapy with deoxycholic acid to help dissolve cardiac and carotid plaques and significantly improve lipid profiles.

Eight things to look out for

If you are considering nutritional IV therapy, remember that some clinics do it better than others.

Here are some key things you should be paying attention to before and during your treatment session.

> If you are asked to choose your “IV Cocktail” from a menu, run!

A genuine health establishment will run diagnostics before you can even begin to receive treatment.

> A credible practice will also let you know that patients’ informed consent is required.

> Before receiving treatment, a full panel of blood work must be carried out.

The healthcare provider should review the patient’s chart and establish a diagnosis based on symptoms before recommending IV treatment.

> Precautions and research are necessary to prevent potential allergies and to determine recommended daily allowances.

The staff should be monitoring key vitamin and mineral levels (such as iron) to ensure they remain within safe limits.

> Providers should be knowledgeable about osmolality (the concentration of dissolved particles of chemicals and minerals such as sodium and other electrolytes) for IV solutions, signs of discomfort, how to handle complaints and adverse reactions during the procedure.

> A staff member should be present during the session and always have an emergency crash cart on hand.

> In order to maintain the integrity of ingredients, infusions should only be prepped a few hours before therapy, as opposed to the night before.

> UV protectants should be used on light-sensitive antioxidants and when possible, use compounded essential nutrients that are free of preservatives.

Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, and a functional medicine practitioner. For further information, email starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only, and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.



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