It remains uncertain whether vitamin C routinely used with oral iron supplements is essential for patients with iron deficiency anemia (IDA)..
..The primary outcome was the change in hemoglobin level from baseline to 2 weeks of treatment, and an equivalence margin of 1 g/dL in hemoglobin was chosen for the demonstration of comparable efficacy. Secondary outcomes included the change in the reticulocyte percentage after 2 weeks of treatment, the increase in hemoglobin level after 4 weeks of treatment, the increase in serum ferritin level after 8 weeks of treatment, and adverse events.
Results Among the 440 randomized patients (220 each in the oral iron supplements plus vitamin C group and iron-only group; 426 women [96.8%]; mean [SD] age, 38.3 [11.7] years), all were assessed for the primary outcome, and 432 (98.2%) completed the trial. From baseline to the 2-week follow-up, the mean (SD) change in hemoglobin level was 2.00 (1.08) g/dL in the oral iron supplements plus vitamin C group and 1.84 (0.97) g/dL in the oral iron supplements–only group (between-group difference, 0.16 g/dL; 95% CI, −0.03 to 0.35 g/dL), thus meeting the criteria for equivalence.
The mean (SD) change in serum ferritin level from baseline to 8-week follow-up was 35.75 (11.52) ng/mL in the vitamin C plus iron group and 34.48 (9.50) ng/mL in the iron-only group (between-group difference, 1.27 ng/mL; 95% CI, −0.70 to 3.24 ng/mL; P = .21). There were no significant differences between the 2 groups regarding the rates of adverse events (46 [20.9%] vs 45 [20.5%]; difference, 0.4%; 95% CI, −6.7% to 8.5%; P = .82). No patient withdrew because of adverse events.
Conclusions and Relevance Among patients with IDA, oral iron supplements alone were equivalent to oral iron supplements plus vitamin C in improving hemoglobin recovery and iron absorption. These findings suggest that on-demand vitamin C supplements are not essential to take along with oral iron supplements for patients with IDA.