Vitamin IV wellness centers are springing up around Utah. Does the trendy service work?
Vitamin IV therapy is relatively new in Utah, but companies offering this trendy service are springing up across the state, said the owner of a local “spa.”
In 2019, “we only had one or two competitors in Utah,” said Trevor Brimley, co-owner of FIKA Infusion + Wellness, which has locations in Woods Cross and Millcreek as well as a mobile option. But in the last year and a half, “we’ve seen a lot of competition.”
This surge in popularity could be because people appear to be “more wellness and health conscious” as of 2021, Brimley said. It could also be because the vitamin IV market in Utah was relatively open just a few years ago.
Before Brimley and his wife opened FIKA, the couple lived in Nashville, Tennessee, where vitamin IV therapy is “very popular,” particularly in the “hangover bachelorette party scene,” he said. Some even offered home visits for country stars and other professionals.
When he and Megan Brimley decided to get into the business, they instead started a business in Utah, where they are both from. The competition they’ve seen since then “simply reinforces the need or desire to bring this treatment to market,” Trevor Brimley said.
What is vitamin IV therapy?
Instead of taking vitamins by mouth, vitamin IV therapy involves giving vitamins intravenously and other treatment options. Administering such supplements directly into the bloodstream is said to help treat fatigue, migraines, hangovers, and more.
Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow have touted the IVs. The Vitamin Bar in Park City — which also offers cellular service to St. George, Salt Lake City, Holladay, Draper, Heber Valley and central Utah — has received dozens of positive reviews online. A client who received intravenous treatment there praised the energizing effect; another said it helped her when she was feeling “dehydrated and nauseous.”
However, the statistically significant benefit of vitamin IV therapy has not been proven.
The service has a certain appeal, said a registered nutritionist at the University of Utah, noting that it’s often offered in soothing, upscale, spa-like settings, rather than in a traditional clinic setting.
That could contribute to a “placebo effect,” said nutritionist Miranda Reynolds, and could be why some people think it’s effective. However, the IVs are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration and are unlikely to be covered by health insurance.
“I don’t want to say, yeah, that’s going to cure these things, and it’s been proven,” Reynolds said of vitamin IV therapy, “because … I can’t say that.”
Vitamin IV therapy isn’t for everyone either, she noted. Some medications should not be mixed with certain nutrients as they can interact with each other. People with certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease, should also talk to their doctor before undergoing vitamin IV treatment, she said.
That advice aside, however, the potential risks of vitamin IV therapy are relatively small, Reynolds said. There is a possibility of vitamin toxicity, although a healthy person’s kidneys are good at filtering out these extra vitamins, she said. And when using a needle, there is always a risk of infection.
“But I would say if there’s someone who feels like it’s helping them, for whatever reason. … It’s okay if someone wants to do that,” Reynolds said. “However, I’m not suggesting it’s necessary.”
Tommy Lloyd, who owns the Vitamin Bar, is a Salt Lake Valley firefighter paramedic, also from Utah.
He said The Vitamin Bar is in the process of conducting blood draws, where staff “send your blood to a lab to test what vitamins you’re lacking.” That allows them to create a supplemental plan based on any deficiencies of a customer, “so that we don’t just throw everything on your head.”
FIKA performs micronutrient panel measurements through a blood draw that a staffed medical provider refers to when consulting with clients to answer questions. This provider was also involved in creating the spa’s dosing and administration guidelines.
As a paramedic Lloyd said he sees a need to help people stay hydrated and maintain their vitamin levels. He said opening a vitamin IV center is “a great way to serve the public.”
At The Vitamin Bar, “we encourage healthy living and eating and maintaining adequate hydration,” Lloyd said. “This serves more as a complement to today’s society where we’re so busy that it’s difficult to do all of that.”
When people come to FIKA complaining of a lack of energy and fatigue, “they would feel a lot better and their energy would be back if they just hydrated,” Brimley said. But they also want to help with all “basic dietary needs.”
Reynolds said the best way to get nutrients in the body is through a healthy diet.
“But if someone decides to take a multivitamin, or specifically an iron supplement or something … if a doctor or a dietitian usually recommends it, it’s usually because they’ve had blood tests that may indicate they are deficient, and they can’t get it from food for some reason,” Reynolds said.
Regardless of how a supplement is taken, its job is to “fill in every gap,” she said, “if there are any.” Taking a vitamin infusion instead of taking a vitamin pill is “neither better nor worse,” she said. “It’s just a different modality.”
How does it work?
Most local IV treatments start at around $150 and go up to around $400, and certain additional services may also be included.
At FIKA, individual infusion treatments usually last between 45 minutes and an hour. Clients can sit in a massage chair, put their feet up and listen to soothing music while a nurse administers and monitors their IVs. “We feel like the healing starts when you walk in the door,” Brimley said.
The Vitamin Bar’s offerings include “Bluebird Day,” which contains vitamin C, glutathione and B complex and is said to be “refreshing and rejuvenating,” according to the company’s website.
Meant to boost energy and fight fatigue “after a hard day on the mountain,” the “Yard Sale” contains B-Complex, L-Carnatine, and a muscle-injected Lipo-C.
According to The Vitamin Bar’s website, there’s also the “Alpenglow” treatment, a “facial in a sachet” that contains glutathione and vitamin C “for the perfect glow.”
Briaunna Witt, a customer of The Vitamin Bar, said: “Every time I have used their services, it has generally been for wellness reasons. I actually work late and sometimes get an IV to prevent fatigue.”
“The last time I had an IV was before Christmas as I was out of town for the holidays and the wellness IV was great,” she continued.