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IV Nutrition: Few Proven Benefits for Growing Trend Among Athletes

Imagine if you can “get over dehydration and immune challenges, and support athletic recovery and chronic health challenges like fatigue, weight gain, and inflammation,” all with a particular vitamin cocktail delivered directly into your bloodstream? Works out, you almost certainly can’t.

But in accordance with an editorial published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine Tuesday, elite athletes are self-medicating with IV nutrition products that promise similar benefits. The merchandise are located at “drip bars” or through concierge home services, and deliver nutrients and vitamins via an IV drip in the arm. Charles Pedlar, PhD, of St Mary’s University Twickenham in London, and co-authors remember that some athletes utilize the treatment normally as weekly before or after games, spending money on treatments “claiming to improve health insurance and performance, restore hydration, accelerate recovery and so forth.”

However the benefits remain unproven. Pedlar, a sports physiologist who works together with professional athletes in both U.K. and the U.S., told MedPage Today he started noticing an uptick in the usage of IV treatments within the last three or four 4 years. Within his use athletes, during routine blood tests, “we were noticing that there is definitely a subset of players who have been coming through with very, high values for a few nutrients,” he said.

The data for great things about the treatments is “sparse rather than supportive,” the editorialists wrote, noting that infusions often contain combinations of B vitamins, proteins, electrolytes, vitamin C, glutathione, or perhaps a coenzyme called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide. The only real two studies — one in 1978 and something in 2020 — evaluating the consequences of vitamin injections found no effects.

Pedlar explained that beyond a particular level, your body doesn’t need excess vitamins, and any perceived value is actually a consequence of the placebo effect. The 2020 study showed some benefits when it comes to red blood cell parameters with vitamin B12, however, not when their vitamin B12 level was beyond 700 pg/mL. Also, injecting vitamins didn’t have an edge over taking them orally, the study showed.

Actually, treatments that promise to “optimize” so many areas of health have a prospect of real harm, the editorialists said. For instance, an excessive amount of vitamin B may lead to peripheral neuropathy, and an excessive amount of iron sent to the body outside the intestine can raise the risk for liver disease.

The team also warned about an elevated prospect of infection and blood clots that include the usage of an IV drip generally. “I’m pouring in this nutrition product you do not know wherever it’s result from, or whether it may be contaminated with other products,” Pedlar said.

Your body’s “gut-liver axis” is really a natural mechanism for regulating nutrients which are ingested as food, and “bypassing these mechanisms appears foolhardy unless there exists a significant clinical rationale,” the group wrote.

Elite players are pushed to execute in lots of arenas, perhaps more now than ever before, Pedlar said. “Professional athletes are under plenty of pressure nowadays from the physical load they’re under, but additionally the media, certain requirements that they need to deal with, social media marketing. They see this as an instant way to have the ability to tolerate the demands of these sport better.”

IV nutrition has high-profile non-athlete advocates, like Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber, assisting to popularize it. IV vitamin treatments in the start of the pandemic popped up, promising to take care of COVID-19. The Federal Trade Commission even sent a warning letter to a small business called Prana IV Therapy for “unsubstantiated claims.”

And unlike illegal performance-enhancing drugs, for instance, the IV treatments aren’t taboo, Pedlar noted. “It’s become quite matter of fact, you understand, [with people saying] ‘I have those weekly,’ so there appears to be a willingness to talk about that information, that is a surprise to us.”

Much like other unproven sports medicine and “wellness” trends, while there’s still a study and data void, it’s better for athletes to adhere to what is recognized to work — i.e., getting nutrients through food, no IV drip: what those in sports medicine call a “food first” approach. Evidence-based help with IV vitamin use is basically absent from sports medicine literature, although “no-needle” policies, which ban athletes from using syringes or injections, apply in a few sports and organizations, the editorialists said.

“We’re attempting to look for the very best training techniques and we’re attempting to look for the very best nutritional strategies and recovery strategies, but there is a line somewhere where it becomes an excessive amount of and it’s too much,” Pedlar said. “It generally does not feel to be observing athletes taking IV products when there’s not just a strong case for this.”

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    Sophie Putka can be an enterprise and investigative writer for MedPage Today. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Discover, Business Insider, Inverse, Cannabis Wire, and much more. She joined MedPage Today in August of 2021. Follow

Disclosures

Pedlar and two co-authors reported relationships with Orreco, which gives blood biomarker monitoring services to professional athletes.

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