Some Claim Cocktails Show Immediate Results; Others Say There's Not Enough Data

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Could injecting yourself with mega-doses of vitamins and minerals be the key to good health?

The alternative treatment is gaining popularity and also generating controversy, CBS 2’s Dr. Max Gomez reported Friday.

Advocates claim it can help everything from Alzheimer’s to arthritis and even cancer.

It was just a few months ago that three large studies suggested that multivitamins offer little or nothing in the way of health benefits, leading some experts to urge people to abandon their vitamin supplements.

Still, some practitioners not only still use them, they actually give vitamins intravenously, Dr. Gomez reported.

Liz Johnson receives high levels of vitamins and minerals through an IV. The 44-year-old suffers from the auto-immune disease lupus.

“I just had no energy. I was in bed at 7:30 every night,” Johnson said.

Six months ago, Johnson said she decided to try injectable vitamins to improve her health. Her doctor, John Salerno, offers 31 different IV treatments that can contain vitamin C, zinc, calcium, copper and vitamin B-12.

He said the cocktails can boost energy levels, and can help with anxiety and fatigue.

“We can get the nutrients right into the bloodstream, bypasses the liver, so they are not metabolized,” Dr. Salerno said.

Using an IV, patients can tolerate much higher doses then they could orally, Dr. Salerno said.

However, many experts question whether this alternative treatment has any health benefits.

“There have not been any clinical trials or studies of any type that have shown any efficacy in terms of preventing disease or treating disease with injectable vitamins,” said Dr. Heidi Silver of the Vanderbilt Center for Human Nutrition.

Some studies have found that mega-doses of vitamins can be toxic. Still, Johnson said the procedure has given her relief.

“My energy level tripled and (it’s) just phenomenal that I could have energy to stay up past 7:30 every night,” she said.

There are some essential vitamins and minerals, specifically B-12 and magnesium that can be hard to absorb when taken orally, Dr. Gomez reported. And there may be some conditions or deficiencies that are helped by vitamin supplementation.

But most experts say the benefits claimed for IV vitamins may actually be due to a placebo effect, Dr. Gomez reported.

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