Vitamin C may improve mood in hospitalized patients

August 18, 2011

According to a new Canadian study, a vitamin C therapy was associated with a 34% reduction in mood disturbance of acutely hospitalized patients.

In the clinical trial, 55 mentally competent patients were randomly assigned to receive 500 mg vitamin C twice daily or 1000 IU vitamin D twice daily for up to 10 days (1). To assess potential effects of vitamin C and D on psychological abnormalities, the patients’ mood status and vitamin blood concentrations were measured at beginning and end of the study. The study results at the beginning showed that 56% of the patients were depleted in vitamin C (concentration below 28.4 micromol/L) and 9% were deficient (below 11.4 micromol/L). 84% showed vitamin D deficiency (below 75 nmol/L). The vitamin C therapy increased plasma concentrations and was associated with a 34% reduction in mood disturbance. Vitamin D therapy increased plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, but had no significant effect on mood.

The researchers concluded that a vitamin C treatment of acutely hospitalized patients with insufficient vitamin C status (hypovitaminosis C) can improve the mood state. The fact that vitamin D treatment did not show a significant positive effect on mood disturbance could be due to reaching plasma 25OHD concentrations being below recommended levels in the study.

Acutely hospitalized patients experience emotional distress for many reasons. Hypovitaminosis C and vitamin D deficiency are highly prevalent in acutely hospitalized patients and have been linked to abnormal mood. There is a well-known relationship between vitamin C deficiency and psychological state (2). Vitamin C is involved in neuronal transmission and neurotransmitter metabolism, and its cerebrospinal fluid concentration is approximately threefold higher than, and tightly linked to, its plasma concentration. If subnormal vitamin C concentrations in the cerebrospinal fluid adversely affect brain function, their replenishment could improve mood. In addition, vitamin D could play an important role in brain function, and there is some evidence that vitamin D deficiency impairs mood (3).


  1. Zhang M. et al. Vitamin C provision improves mood in acutely hospitalized patients. Nutrition. 2011; 27:530–533.
  2. Evans-Olders R. et al. Metabolic origin of hypovitaminosis C in acutely hospitalized patients. Nutrition. 2009; 26:1070–1074.
  3. Wilkins C. H. et al. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with low mood and worse cognitive performance in older adults. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry 2006; 14:1032–1040.