Effects of ascorbic acid on anxiety state and affect in a non-clinical sample

Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 2017;77(4):362-372.


Objective Given that the literature data indicates that ascorbic acid may have an anxiolytic effect, we hypothesized that a single oral administration of ascorbic acid could acutely affect emotional states. Methods The effects of acid ascorbic supplementation on anxiety and other emotional states were evaluated by the State‑Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), and Visual Analogue Mood Scale (VAMS). Immediately before, and 2 hours after receiving a single ascorbic acid dose (1000 mg) or placebo, 142 graduate students were evaluated by the STAI and VAMS in a randomized, double‑blind, placebo‑controlled trial. Results No changes from basal levels were observed in the STAI state‑anxiety or VAMS scores. However, the ingestion of ascorbic acid by the 25% more anxious healthy subjects (women; 14 control and 23 ascorbic acid), as defined by the STAI trait‑anxiety scale, produced a significant reduction from baseline anxiety scores in the STAI state‑anxiety scale and VAMS anxiety subscale. The study evaluated a small sample with narrow sociodemographic characteristics, composed mainly of healthy young females (> 94%) enrolled in post‑graduation courses, without controlling diet, physical activity, and formal psychiatric diagnosis.

Conclusions: Despite the sample size limitation, this study provides the first evidence of an acute anxiolytic effect of ascorbic acid. Broader population studies are required to evaluate the clinical relevance of presented data.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / drug effects*
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Anxiety / drug therapy*
  • Ascorbic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antioxidants
  • Ascorbic Acid