What if a unique vitamin cocktail could be injected directly into your bloodstream to help you "recover from dehydration and immune issues, as well as assist sports recovery and chronic health concerns including weariness, weight gain, and inflammation?
However, a Tuesday editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine claims that professional athletes are self-medicating with IV nutrition solutions that offer comparable advantages. The goods, which supply vitamins and nutrients through an IV drip in the arm, are sold at "drip bars" or through concierge home services.
More and more research suggests that athletes use this therapy before or following the competition. They claim that some athletes now use this therapy weekly before or after contests. These athletes pay for services that "claim to boost health and performance, restore hydration, and accelerate recovery."
The advantages, however, are still unproven. There has been an increase in athletes using IVs during the past three to four years. Researchers noticed that a certain subset of players showed extremely high values for some nutrients during normal blood testing.
It is suggested that there may be benefits in infusions. It can range from mixing B-vitamins, amino acids, electrolytes, vitamin C and a coenzyme.
However, the data on their effectiveness is still inconclusive. While there have been two studies about the effects of vitamin injections on people's health, one in 1978 and the other in 2020, neither study found any statistically significant effect.
"Pedlar" claims that the body shouldn't take more than a "certain" amount of supplements. Any other benefits are/may be coming from the placebo effect. Some studies have shown some benefits related to red blood cell parameters and vitamin B12, but the effects don't apply to people with higher levels of it. In addition, injecting vitamins had no advantage over taking them orally, as seen in the 2020 study.
The editorialists say that treatments that promise to fix or optimise so many aspects of health have a potential for harm. For instance, overdoing Vitamin B could lead to peripheral neuropathy, and a high intake of iron without the intestine might raise your risk for liver disease.
We also want to warn about the increased potential for infection and blood clots that come with using an IV drip. It's important to be aware of the unknowns, like where this thing is from or what might be in it.
The gut-liver axis is a natural way to regulate nutrients in food, and skipping this natural mechanism is usually not a good idea unless there is a significant clinical reason.
The physical demands of media attention compound the pressure of being a professional athlete. Mental health professionals are finding ways to help them cope with these stressors, including exercise.
IV nutrition is becoming popular amongst influencers like Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber. They're helping to raise awareness about its benefits. IV vitamin treatments started to pop up during the pandemic; they claimed to be able to treat COVID-19. The FTC even sent them a warning letter for making "unsubstantiated claims".
Unlike illegal performance-enhancing drugs, for example, IV treatments aren't taboo.
Some sports medicine and wellness trends are not proven and could pose a risk. It is better to stick with what is known to work, such as receiving nutrients through food rather than an IV drip. According to editorialists, evidence-based information on using IV fluids in competitive sports is lacking. "No-needle" policies exist, but they allow athletes to use syringes or inject themselves with fluids.
"We're always trying to find the best training, nutritional, and recovery techniques. However, there comes the point where it becomes too extreme and takes away from the enjoyment of running," Pedlar said. In addition, it feels a little weird to watch athletes get IV treatment when there's no strong reason for it.
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