It’s 2017 and yes, people have begun to inject vitamins into their bloodstream in an attempt to combat inflammation and improve recovery in a process referred to as IV Nutrient Therapy.
It is said that IV Nutrient Therapy is a better alternative to oral supplementation of vitamins and minerals for reasons like increased absorption rate and less stress placed on the gastrointestinal system. The therapy also comes with a high price tag. Some clinics are found to be charging $230 per treatment.
IV Nutrient Therapy is a rather new practice implemented by naturopathic doctors around the globe that was first identified and publicized on the Dr.Oz Show. Unfortunately for Dr.Oz, many of his guests including himself make some extremely bold statements that lack any scientific foundation.
While IV Nutrient Therapy has and is being used to treat cancer and disease despite extremely weak research, we are more interested in the performance enhancement claims that are being made about the therapy.
Athletes around the world, especially those in the UFC and in cross fit can be found placing high demand on the treatment.
In this brief article, you will learn whether IV Therapy is just some other gimmick, or if it has some logistical framework to support it.
Here are the hypothesized claims that IV Nutrient Therapy can offer you from a performance standpoint.
Common Claims of IV Nutrient Therapy and Exercise
Improves Muscle Recovery
The mechanisms through which IV Therapy are thought to help in muscle recovery are not truly understood and much of the claims are not grounded in research. It has been postulated that antioxidants included in the treatment such as glutathione target inflammatory markers, free radicals and ROS (reactive oxygen species) associated with muscle damage, thus improving recovery.
While there is no research to support or negate this claim, recent research composed by Merry and Ristow (2016) indicated that high dose oral supplementation of antioxidants can be detrimental to muscular adaptations. Due to the main claim of IV Nutrient Therapy being the direct absorption of nutrients, it could be hypothesized that the blood will contain even higher than oral administered amounts of antioxidants that could further impede these muscular adaptations.
IV Nutrient Therapies role in muscle recovery though not truly understood is probably a farfetch’d idea as eating a well balanced diet with adequate sleep is likely a better approach.
Hormone Production and Increases Growth Hormone
IV Nutrient Therapy is said to provide benefits to testosterone and growth hormone production. Through intravenous therapy the body is introduced to adequate nutrients that help with bodily processes ultimately producing necessary molecules needed for hormone production. By pumping vitamins such as zinc into the body, testosterone levels are maintained as zinc inhibits or slows down the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. In terms of growth hormone, IV therapy may be beneficial through the utilization of amino acids that have been found to improve GH production. Although the claims sound promising, the research to ground these mechanisms is next to nothing.
Yes, there is no research stating the insignificance of the use of IV Nutrient Therapy, but the same can be said when examining the proposed benefits in terms of testosterone and growth hormone. More scientific evidence must be present to better validate these claims.
Improves Energy Production (B-Vitamins)
B-vitamins do seem to play a role in energy production which can be seen in individuals deficient in the vitamin, however, research dictating that IV therapy with this vitamin is superior to oral administration or normal dietary intake of the vitamin is non existent. For doctors to elude to IV therapy of this vitamin to be superior is currently a far stretch and athletes are likely better saving their money and again, eating a balanced diet. That being said, the importance of this vitamin is not to be under appreciated.
IV Nutrient Therapy would appear to be a promising performance enhancement tool, but currently there is no evidence supporting any of these claims. Just because something has no research to negate the hypothesized benefits is not a good enough basis for the implementation of its use clinically.
Take Home Points
- No research to support IV Nutrient Therapy from a muscle recovery, hormonal or energy production standpoint.
- For now, take your hard earned money and invest it in a balanced diet.
- Yes, absorption rate differs between IV and oral administration – significance and benefits are unknown and should be considered minimal until further research is produced.
Merry, T. L., & Ristow, M. (2016). Do antioxidant supplements interfere with skeletal muscle adaptation to exercise training?. Journal Of Physiology, (18), 5135. doi:10.1113/JP270654