What is IV Hydration Therapy?
IV hydration therapy is a treatment that delivers fluids directly into the bloodstream through an IV inserted into one of your veins. Although IV therapy is considered a new health and wellness trend, it has been a common practice in conventional medicine for decades to treat dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. The fluids included in IV hydration therapy are often a cocktail of micronutrients and electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and calcium. I’ll talk more about electrolytes later.
Why is Hydration Important?
All of the processes in your body require water. In fact, 60% of your body is water. Here are a few ways water benefits your health:
It helps regulate our internal body temperature
Flushes out toxins and waste
It keeps our joints lubricated
Delivers nutrients to cells
Keeps organs functioning properly
Supports brain performance
Aids in weight loss
The more water you have in your system, the more efficiently your body can perform tasks such as thinking, breathing, and even burning fat. This is where electrolytes are essential because they maintain the balance between fluids inside and outside your cells and aid in eliminating waste. You lose water and electrolytes throughout the day through sweat, urine, stool, and breathing. Warmer climates and intense exercise increase the amount of fluids and electrolytes you lose through sweat. You can quickly become dehydrated if you do not replace fluids and electrolytes.
Electrolytes Role In Hydration
No discussion of dehydration is complete without talking about electrolytes. Most people, when asked, aren’t sure what electrolytes are or why they’re so important in preventing dehydration. Electrolytes are minerals that carry an electrical charge, and the four essential minerals that make electrolytes are calcium, chloride, magnesium, potassium, and sodium. As an essential mineral, an electrolyte cannot be substituted by any other nutrient in the diet. That means that your body will only accept that particular mineral or electrolyte. Without electrolytes, you could not move, think, or live. Within the body, electrolytes get dissolved in body fluids. In terms of hydration, electrolytes are responsible for directing water (and nutrients) to the areas of the body where it’s needed most and maintaining optimal fluid balance inside the cells, as I mentioned earlier. When your electrolytes get out of balance, not only do you feel dehydrated, you can also experience muscle weakness, spasms, cramps, paralysis, and respiratory problems. If it continues, kidney problems may occur. High potassium (hyperkalemia) may not cause symptoms, although you may experience muscle weakness or abnormal heart rhythms. While the above symptoms indicate an imbalance of electrolytes, they also could tell you that your body needs fluids. Let’s talk about the signs that you’re dehydrated.
The Signs You’re Dehydrated
One of the best ways to tell if you’re dehydrated is by looking at the color of your urine. The darker the color, the more dehydrated you are and the more water your body needs. Dehydration happens when your body loses more fluids than it is taking in. It often occurs due to prolonged exercise in a heated environment, diarrhea, vomiting, or simply not drinking enough water. Older adults, children, individuals who work outside, and those with health conditions such as cystic fibrosis, diabetes, or kidney problems that cause them to sweat or urinate more are at a greater risk for dehydration. The most common symptoms of dehydration include:
Frequent feeling of being thirsty
Dark yellow urine
Decreased urination or sweat production
More severe symptoms of dehydration that may require emergency medical attention include:
Although individual fluid requirements vary by age, gender, activity level, and geographic location, research suggests that an adequate water intake is half your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, your daily water intake should be 75 ounces. IV hydration therapy might be right for you if you aren’t getting adequate hydration due to stress or heavy activity, or you just aren’t remembering to drink enough water.
Types of IV Hydration Therapies
Many IV infusions are available, depending on the purpose and ingredients in the cocktail. Here are three of the most popular infusions available in wellness clinics.
Simple Hydration and Recovery: Simple hydration blends are often composed of B vitamins and normal saline (a mixture of salt and water) to hydrate cells. The added B vitamins support a healthy stress response, promote cognitive performance, and lower cortisol levels while promoting the release of seratonin and dopamine to boost your mood. Recovery blends are typically used as a hangover remedy because of the higher level of electrolytes. They are also formulated with IV fluids and vitamins to optimize hydration and replenish essential nutrients. Athletic recovery blends often include amino acids such as glutamine, arginine, and taurine to support the rebuilding of your muscles and enhance recovery and endurance.
IV Vitamins: One of the benefits of IV therapy is that it’s a quick way for nutrients to bypass the digestive system and be delivered directly into the bloodstream. This is a good system if you have a leaky gut, autoimmune, or another condition that prevents optimal absorption during the digestive process.When a person receives IV vitamin therapy, they receive a blend of macronutrients and minerals directly into the bloodstream. IV vitamin therapy allows essential nutrients and fluid to bypass your digestive system and directly enter your bloodstream. I recommend everyone supplement with a high quality multivitamin. Nutrient deficiencies are much more common than one might expect. With our modern lifestyles, high levels of stress, and poor soil and water quality, we are getting fewer nutrients than ever before. While IV vitamin therapy isn’t a substitute for a high quality multivitamin and nutrient-dense diet, it can be beneficial if you need a boost to reach optimal levels of vitamins and minerals.
Immune Booster: Your immune system needs eight essential nutrients including vitamins C, D, A, and E, collagen, zinc, selenium, and iron, to function optimally. IV immune formulas typically contain these essential nutrients to support your immune system. These vitamins and minerals facilitate an immune system response and support healthy circulation, vascular integrity, and balanced blood pressure. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant and reduces free radical damage caused by oxidative stress. Vitamin C also has the power to boost your body’s production and collagen to support healthy hair, skin, and nails. These are three common types of IV therapies offered by wellness clinics. Many others are being added to this growing trend every day because of the benefits of IV hydration therapy. Let’s talk about those benefits.
Benefits of IV Hydration Therapy
The most abundant benefit of IV hydration therapy is that it delivers nutrients directly to the bloodstream and bypasses the digestive system. This is essential because a lot of nutrients aren’t fully absorbed by your gut, especially if you have a gut infection. IV hydration therapy can also give your digestive system a break since drinking too much water too quickly can upset your stomach. You need to replenish electrolytes and water if you engage in intense workouts or participate in athletic sports. When you sweat, your body loses electrolytes at a rapid rate. IV hydration therapy provides fluid and electrolytes to restore the body’s hydration and electrolyte levels. Hydration plays a significant role in your ability to recover from injuries, surgery, or athletic training. Because IV hydration is absorbed so efficiently, it may help you recover faster than drinking water or sports drinks. IV hydration can also be customized to meet your fluid and nutrient needs, which can help ensure you receive the right amount of fluid to detoxify your body. Furthermore, your skin, joints, and muscles need hydration to function properly, just as your cells do. IV hydration therapy can replenish fluids to give you a more youthful glow and support muscle and joint health. All of these benefits sound great. There are significant benefits to IV hydration therapy, yet it isn’t for everyone. Here’s how to know if IV hydration therapy is right for you!
Is IV Hydration Therapy Right For You?
IV hydration therapy is extremely safe and efficient in quickly providing your body with the nutrients and fluid needs. However, it’s essential to understand that this is a quick fix. Those benefits are short-lived if you aren’t regularly drinking enough water or eating a diet full of whole foods and organic meats and vegetables. That said, it’s hard to ignore the benefits of IV hydration therapy. I recommend trying it out and determining if it works for you.
A Final Word on IV Hydration Therapy
IV hydration therapy is a valuable treatment option for improving hydration and supporting optimal health and wellness. It also promotes rapid absorption of optimal doses of vitamins and minerals than you would get from food alone.
The Water in You: Water and the Human Body. Water Science School. United States Geological Survey. 2019.
Electrolytes. Cleveland Clinic. 2022.
Dehydration. Medline Plus. 2022.
Effects of high-dose B vitamin complex with vitamin C and minerals on subjective mood and performance in healthy males. David O Kennedy, et al. Psychopharmacology. 2010.
How Vitamin C Supports a Healthy Immune System. Marisa Moore, MBA, RDN, LD. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2021.