The authors of the study, Dr. Harri Hemila and Dr. Elizabeth Chalker, looked through previous publications that studied the effects of vitamin C on the length of ICU stay or the duration of a patient on mechanical ventilation.
They found 18 relevant studies and pooled together the data presented in them. The collected data suggested that administration of vitamin C shortened ICU visits on average by 7.8 percent. They also found that in six of the studies, oral administration of two grams of vitamin C per day reduced the length of ICU stays by an average of 8.6 percent. Additionally, they saw that vitamin C intake shortened the duration of necessary mechanical ventilation in patients by 18.2 percent.
Hemila and Chalker wanted to study the impact of vitamin C after a recent study stated that 35 percent of older Scottish patients who were admitted to the ICU had very low levels of vitamin C plasma – so low that scurvy becomes a dangerous risk. These low levels of vitamin C plasma can be caused by many factors – usually the underlying illness that brought them to the ICU. But Hemila and Chalker noted that the stress that hospital visits put on the body can also cause a drop in vitamin C levels.
Hemila and Chalker added that high doses of vitamin C are needed for critically ill patients – up to four grams per day – in order to boost their vitamin C levels to the range of healthy people. This will help the body compensate for the increased metabolism of patients.
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a well-known antioxidant, with people getting a lot of it from citrus fruits like oranges and limes – but also from vegetables like cabbages and cauliflowers. More studies need to be done to explore the full potential of vitamin C. The study by Hemila and Chalker adds to the growing list of scientific literature enlightening the world to the capabilities of vitamin C. (Related: Vitamin C Prevents Cancer, Stroke, Diabetes, and Heart Disease.)
For example, the strong antioxidant properties of vitamin C make its regular intake a great way to naturally boost the body's immune system. Antioxidants like those found in vitamin C defend the body from free radicals, a harmful molecule that, if allowed to build up, can significantly harm the body and cause many chronic diseases. Studies have shown that vitamin C consumption can increase blood antioxidant levels by up to 30 percent.
If that's not enough, a study from the Virginia Commonwealth University also supported the research of Hemila and Chalker. The study reviewed publications that evaluated the effects of vitamin C dosage in patients with sepsis and septic lung injuries. Their findings showed that vitamin C therapy reduced the mortality rate for septic patients from 46 percent to 30 percent.
Furthermore, vitamin C can even help protect the body against asthma, kidney stones, and Alzheimer's.
Hemila and Chalker have come out of their study with an understanding of the great effects of vitamin C in the body. They concluded their study by saying that more research should be done to further understand the benefits of vitamin C consumption. “Vitamin C costs only pennies per gram,” they concluded, “whereas one day in the ICU may cost thousands of dollars; therefore, an 8% decrease in ICU stay from the administration of 2 g/day of vitamin C warrants further research.”