You’ve feared and hated needles all your life. You dread having blood tests, and you sure as heck won’t donate blood because of this fear. But one day, you hear about this cool new thing that ‘boosts your energy’. You end up sitting in a cool, modern clinic and you’ve been told you need to get vitamins jabbed into your bloodstream because that is what will make you feel better. Sounds like a miracle, right?
Many popular celebrities are rolling up their sleeves for intravenous vitamins (high-dose vitamin infusion into their veins). And now many ‘natural-health’ clinics are providing this too, and to anyone. But, is this safe? And is it even needed to begin with?
Let’s drill down into this. Some people get really sick, like – really, really sick. To the point where they can’t eat/swallow, and/or their gastrointestinal tract doesn’t work as it should. These people would mostly probably (or should be) in hospital. If they are in hospital, Dietitians and Pharmacists prepare sterile bags of Total Parenteral Nutrition, which is a mixture of vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins and fats that get injected into this really sick person, which completely replaces their requirement to eat (because they can’t). This is an established medical role for ‘Intravenous nutrition’ and it is required – otherwise this sick person would die from starvation.
Other people may have other illnesses, which makes them severely deficient in certain nutrients, so their Medical Doctor injects them with nutrients such as: Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, and iron – all of which are science-based therapies. This is because being really deficient in a nutrient is very, very dangerous. So having injections of the required nutrient reduces many health risks.
Now, although people get really sick, and need these types of therapies, health professionals will always try to get them to receive nutrients the preferred way first– by eating! (or taking supplements) If this doesn’t work, then intravenous therapy comes into play.
So if eating food for nutrients is preferred, even for the sick people, what is the justification to infuse vitamins into your veins when you are completely healthy, with a functioning mouth and gastrointestinal tract? What is the justification for paying up to $200+ for this therapy, when you can get the same nutrients from food?
There has been no strong scientific evidence to suggest that these therapies (for a healthy, functioning person) are beneficial or even safe. Every time you are willing to accept a needle, you are accepting the small chances of infection. You are also wasting a lot of money, and depriving your body off what it is made to do: eat, digest, and absorb the nutrients it needs.
Your body is very smart. When you eat, it will take the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients it requires from that food; and it excretes (pees/poos) the rest out. So why would you jab it with extra stuff it probably doesn’t even want?
If you are a healthy person, with the ability to eat and digest food but still need the ‘extra boost’ that the vitamin jab might give you, it is best to think through what it is you are doing. You may not be eating highly nutritious food, you may not be exercising enough or exercising too much, you may be dehydrated, drinking too much alcohol, not sleeping enough, or just stressing too much.
So identify what it is that you can change for the better, and I promise, you won’t need to risk your safety (and money) on a vitamin-jab.
Then, when you feel healthy and energised, you can face your fear of needles by donating blood to people who really need it.
Yours in health (and sensible information),
Joyce Haddad, Director of A Dietitian's Mission, is an Adelaide based Dietitian/Nutritionist and Master Personal Trainer with a passion for health and wellbeing. ADM aims to help the public make informed and realistic nutritional choices and ensure everyone has a healthy relationship with their body and with food.