Dosing vitamin C in critically ill patients with special attention to renal replacement therapy: a narrative review

Ann Intensive Care. 2020 Feb 12;10(1):23. doi: 10.1186/s13613-020-0640-6.


Rationale/methods: The primary aim of the present contribution is to find a literature-based agreement on dose adjustments of vitamin C in critically ill patients undergoing renal replacement therapy (RRT).

Available data/study results: Critical illness is frequently accompanied by severe vitamin C deficiency. High-dose supplementation beneficially affects clinical outcome in small cohorts of patients with sepsis, burn injury, and trauma. There are no specific data on clinical outcomes in patients receiving renal replacement therapy (RRT). Vitamin C plasma concentrations in patients on RRT are comparable to critically ill patients not receiving RRT. Vitamin C is cleared from the circulation during RRT at a rate dependent on the plasma concentration, dose and duration of RRT. Sieving coefficient is about 1. While the dose of RRT is lower than normal renal function, tubular reabsorption is absent. Sparse evidence suggests that vitamin C dosing during continuous RRT should not exceed the dose administered to critically ill patients not receiving continuous RRT. Low plasma concentrations are expected during prolonged RRT because of persistent extracorporeal removal, absent renal reabsorption and enhanced metabolic loss due to circuit-induced oxidative stress. A dosage of twice 1 g vitamin C daily may be necessary to achieve normal plasma concentrations during RRT, but more studies are needed. There is no available evidence that high doses of vitamin C administered over a short period can induce oxalate stones or has pro-oxidant effects.

Conclusions: Supplementing vitamin C 1 g twice daily to critically ill patients has a solid pathophysiological rationale and a good safety profile. Patients on RRT probably need similar doses as critically ill patients not receiving RRT. Intravenous vitamin C in a dose of 2 g/day may be necessary to achieve normal plasma concentrations during RRT. However, data on dose adjustment of vitamin C during intermittent or chronic RRT are sparse and require more thorough pharmacokinetic and dose-response studies.

Keywords: Burns; High-dose vitamin C; Peritoneal dialysis; Prevention of acute kidney injury; Renal replacement therapy; Sepsis; Trauma; Vitamin C.

Publication types

  • Review