WHAT IT IS
In short, intravenous vitamin therapy is the new It infusion—the latest health obsession for the celebrity elite. "People come in wanting to feel more energetic or to look better or improve their athletic performance," says Arash Bereliani, a cardiologist who runs the IV Nutrient Therapy Center in Beverly Hills.
WHO'S DOING IT
A-list entertainers and athletes—many of whom prefer not to discuss their perfectly legal needle habit. Simon Cowell and the Miami Heat's Rashard Lewis are supporters, and Rihanna tweeted a photo of her IV'd arm earlier this year. Bereliani's clientele includes stars from music and film, pro soccer players, a Saudi sheik, and health-minded CEOs, all of whom pay $50 to $250 for sessions that run from 30 minutes to over two hours (a blood test determines the nutrients and dosage required). "I also have executives who can't afford to take sick days, so when they feel symptoms, they come in for a quick treatment," he says.
HOW IT WORKS
While solutions can deliver just a single vitamin, the Myers Cocktail is the most popular choice and the intravenous version of a multi: selenium and vitamin C (to boost your immune system); B-complex vitamins (for energy); magnesium (for heart health and energy production); and calcium (for bone building). Bereliani and others tout the more-is-more benefit of IV treatment, as it allows delivery of nutrients in high doses that, if ingested, would give you a stomachache. "IVs ensure you absorb the full amount," he says.
WHAT THE SKEPTICS SAY
As with any IV drip, there is a small chance of infection and electrolyte imbalance, which can sometimes be fatal. And with vitamins, more isn't necessarily better, says Brent A. Bauer, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota: "Beta-carotene supplements were popular until large doses were shown to increase cancer risk. There is no scientific evidence behind this approach and plenty of risk." And yet the placebo effect is powerful, he says. "People might feel better after an IV dose of anything, including sugar water."
America's leading centers for IV vitamin therapy.
IV Nutrient Therapy Center
Beverly Hills, CA
HealthWorks Integrative Medical Clinic
The Miami Institute for Age Management and Intervention
New York City
San Francisco Natural Medicine