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.