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Vitamin IV infusions: healthy boost or unnecessary risk?

January 7, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Looking for more energy? There's a new vitamin regimen that many celebrities are buying into for a boost. But does it really work? And more importantly, is it safe?

You pop them for a healthy boost. But would you take your dose of vitamins intravenously?

"I haven't had a cold. I haven't had strep. I haven't had anything wrong with me," said Beth Dail, a vitamin-infusion patient.

Beth Dail started IV vitamin infusions to combat the fatigue of Lyme disease. Now, she's hooked.

"I think it's beneficial for everybody," said Dail.

Chiropractic Dr. Craig John says you only absorb 15 to 20 percent of oral vitamins.

"When they're going straight IV, intravenously, you get 100-percent absorption," said Dr. John.

He says the infusions can boost energy, strengthen the immune system, protect against disease and speed up muscle repair. Each vitamin cocktail is personalized for the patient and runs about $150. Most are made up of vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium and other trace minerals.

But some, like medical oncologist Dr. David Riseberg, say the infusions are unnecessary.

"I think that if you eat a healthy diet, you can get all the vitamins you need," said Riseberg. "Intravenous vitamins for a healthy person, to me, seems like a waste of money."

There are also risks. With any intravenous treatment, bruising, infection and vein inflammation can occur. And there's a chance the wrong dose of nutrient could be infused.

Still, Beth Dail says the infusions have given her energy she didn't have.

"Friends and family have just been like what are you doing? You look better," said Dail.

A healthy boost or an unnecessary stick? It's a trend that more and more are willing to give a try.

Vitamin infusions are offered at many alternative health and wellness centers. They are also being used to help conditions like cancer, asthma, fibromyalgia, diabetes, and hepatitis.