Effects of vitamin C and vitamin D administration on mood and distress in acutely hospitalized patients

Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Sep;98(3):705-11. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.056366. Epub 2013 Jul 24.


Background: Hypovitaminosis C and D are highly prevalent in acute-care hospitals. Malnutrition with regard to these vitamins has been linked to mood disturbance and cognitive dysfunction.

Objective: The objective was to determine whether vitamin C or D supplementation improves mood state or reduces psychological distress in acutely hospitalized patients with a high prevalence of hypovitaminosis C and D.

Design: A randomized, double-blind, active-control clinical trial compared the effects of vitamin C (500 mg twice daily) with those of high-dose vitamin D (5000 IU/d) on mood (Profile of Mood States) and psychological distress (Distress Thermometer).

Results: Vitamin C provided for a mean of 8.2 d increased plasma vitamin C concentrations to normal (P < 0.0001) and was associated with a 71% reduction in mood disturbance (P = 0.0002) and a 51% reduction in psychological distress (P = 0.0002). High-dose vitamin D provided for a mean of 8.1 d increased plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations (P < 0.0001), but not into the normal range, and had insignificant effects on mood (P = 0.067) and distress (P = 0.45). The changes in mood and distress in the vitamin C group were greater than those in the vitamin D group (P = 0.045 for mood; P = 0.009 for distress).

Conclusions: Short-term therapy with vitamin C improves mood and reduces psychological distress in acutely hospitalized patients with a high prevalence of hypovitaminosis C and D. No conclusion is possible regarding the effects of vitamin D because the dose and duration of therapy were insufficient to raise 25(OH)D concentrations into the normal range. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01630720.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Avitaminosis / blood
  • Avitaminosis / complications
  • Avitaminosis / drug therapy*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mood Disorders / blood
  • Mood Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Mood Disorders / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / blood
  • Stress, Psychological / drug therapy*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology*
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Ascorbic Acid

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01630720