The mass production and marketing of oral vitamin supplements began in the fifties; since then, we’ve been purchasing bottles of vitamin pills from our local health shops, sometimes at the advice of a doctor, other times under the influence of a celebrity who swears by a miracle combination of letters and numbers. But are oral supplements as efficient at delivering vital nutrients to our systems as we think they are? Are vitamin shots better than oral supplements?
Oral supplements need to be taken consistently and for prolonged periods of time to have a noticeable effect. Plus, they can get pretty expensive depending on the vitamin and the quantity. However, there is an alternative: Vitamin shots and vitamin drips. They’re not a magic cure for illness, and they might not be the best options for those who have a fear of needles, but vitamin shots are very simple to administer and can help to both hydrate your body and deliver more vitamins and nutrients than oral vitamins.
We frequently use IV vitamin therapy for patients with autoimmune issues, those with IBS-type symptoms, and gut issues like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. These patients are often unable to absorb nutrients properly – this is called malabsorption. In these cases we put together a nutrient plan for them to ensure they are getting enough nutrients and vitamins.
The devil’s in the delivery. Water-soluble vitamins like vitamins B and C, for example, are large molecules which can’t pass through your intestines directly into the bloodstream. And so, when oral supplements make their way through the gut, in order to be absorbed by the body they have to be broken down into smaller particles. This is called micronisation, a rigorous process which involves competing with other vitamins absorbed from food. While they’re competing, they’re also being broken down, which means losing some of their goodness. By the time the vitamins and nutrients have been broken down and are ready to be used by the body, they may not be delivering the dosage listed on the packaging.
Vitamin shots and drips allow the nutrients to bypass the micronisation process as they are administered directly into the bloodstream. There’s no need for the body to break down these vitamins, because they’re delivered in the most efficient medium and can instantly be used by the body. This means that a much higher percentage of the nutrients are utilised by the body.
It’s also worth noting that oral supplements are frequently bleached and can contain excipients (fillers) like lactose, whereas IV vitamins – particularly those sourced by Harpal Clinic – are mostly mixed with saline only. With certain vitamins, like vitamin c, which can be quite caustic, we do combine the vitamin with a small amount of saline solution to make delivery more comfortable.
Not only will an IV shot or IV drip deliver vitamins in the most efficient way, but you’ll also feel the benefits sooner than you would if you took oral supplements. Depending on the severity of your deficiencies, your lifestyle, the quality of the oral supplement, and many other factors, it could take weeks before you see any difference.
Conversely, vitamin shots will grant you tangible benefits almost as soon as they enter your system. By entering the bloodstream directly, these vitamins can be processed straight away, providing you with a new lease of life far sooner than any oral supplement.
As we mentioned earlier, oral vitamins need to be taken consistently – usually daily – in order for your system to get any benefit. For busy or forgetful people, or those who travel a lot, it may be difficult to take vitamins regularly. This could mean that the vitamins that your body does receive are not processed in the most effective way; so you’re essentially wasting your money on a method that isn’t working for you.
Vitamin shots and drips don’t need to be taken daily or even weekly. In fact, we advise leaving a little bit of time between regular appointments in order for your body to process the vitamins. Our IV clinician will discuss your needs and requirements and will recommend any ongoing treatments at the time of your consultation. You’ll never have to remember to take a vitamin supplement again – just remember to attend your appointments!
Frequent trips to the shop to pick up oral supplements can get expensive. If you’re taking two or three different vitamin supplements per day, you’ll usually need to spend around £20 each month to maintain your routine. That might not seem so bad – but when you consider that your body might not absorb 100% of the vitamins you take orally (as aforementioned), it may be more economical for you to attend simple IV shot or IV drip appointments on a regular basis. This way, your body receives all the vitamins you need via a method which provides more value.
At Harpal Clinic, our vitamin shots start from as little as £35, and are even cheaper when purchased as a course. Find out more about our IV vitamin therapy.
Dr Harpal Bains says: “There really is a place for all nutrients, and if you’re taking any kind of vitamins then I applaud you – well done! In this modern day and age, taking vitamins in one form or another is something of a necessity. The soil in which our food is grown is so nutritionally depleted that it simply doesn’t contain all the nutrients it once did – even organic food isn’t as nutrient dense.
“Combine this with our stress-filled lifestyles (our stress hormones use a surprisingly large amount of nutrients from our bodies), and you can see that our need for nutrients is vital, more now than ever before, because we are constantly in a state of deficiency.”
“Are vitamin shots better than oral supplements? As I mentioned, if you’re taking some supplements then that is great. If you’ve a chronic illness, hormone issue or a vitamin deficiency due to impaired absorption (especially with gut issues) then IV vitamins could be a good choice for you as they can deliver the vitamins and minerals in the most effective way for your body to utilise.
“Because vitamins are so important we source ours from world-leading German specialists, preservative-free and made to order. Depending on your needs and budget we can design a drip especially for you or we can mix up a classic Myers cocktail which is the perfect blend of vitamins and nutrients for optimal health. Unlike some clinics, we don’t order pre-mixed vitamins, we prepare ours freshly on site to ensure you get the very best quality.”