Ideally, you'll never have to spend even a single night in a hospital bed. But if you happen to wind up there, even if it's just for one night, make sure to take along your vitamins. Vitamin C in particular is a MUST.  A new study shows that the benefits of Vitamin C may also include keeping your mood afloat during your hospital stay.

You see, vitamin C is the essential vitamin REQUIRED for all new growth or repair in the body. In fact, another benefit of vitamin C is that it boosts collagen production. And collagen is the main protein responsible for repair in the body. It repairs your tissues, tendons, bones, muscles, organs and even your brain. Want your post-op scar to heal faster? Make sure you've got plenty of vitamin C...because without it, your body can't repair anything.

Second, vitamin C is critical to your immune system. It boosts the production of interferon, a protein that helps shut down the growth and spread of bacteria, viruses, or tumors. And it's exactly what you need to have in abundance when you're entering the hospital and fighting infection at every turn.

A third benefits of vitamin C is that it makes for a happier hospital stay. That's what surgeons from Montreal's Jewish Medical Hospital just discovered.

Can more vitamin C make you happier?

Canadian physicians selected 32 hospital patients to take part in this study. (Granted, that's a miniscule number. But for a hospital to dispense anything other than Percocet or Prilosec, it's a pretty big deal and essentially unheard of in 2010!)

First off, the doctors divided the patients into two groups. One group would receive 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day for up to 10 days. The other group would receive 1,000 IU of vitamin D (as a placebo) twice a day for up to 10 days.

The doctors also measured blood levels of vitamin C before and after treatment. Unfortunately, they found that 60 percent of the patients were vitamin C deficient at the study's outset.

Next, the doctors asked their patients to answer questionnaires about their mood before vitamin treatment began and after at least five days of taking the vitamins.

Here's what they found:

  • First off, in the group taking vitamin C, their blood levels of vitamin C more than tripled.
  • In addition, the vitamin C group experienced a 34 percent average reduction in mood disturbance.
  • In the vitamin D patients, their blood serum levels of D rose as well.
  • But the vitamin D patients experienced no improvement in mood.

Clearly, vitamin C gave patients a nice boost in mood during their stay. In their report, the doctors didn't make any guesses why the vitamin C group fared so much better. But

I've got an explanation: the benefits of vitamin C makes everything better.

You see, when you're under stress--physical or mental (such as during a hospital stay)--your body's need for vitamin C increases exponentially. In addition, inflammation following surgery or illness depletes your body's absorption of vitamin C. So by giving your body more of what it needs, you heal faster and you're happier.

Add vitamin C to the top of your "To Pack" list

There's no doubt the benefits vitamin C will help you recover from any hospital visit. Not only will it boost your mood, but it will also help you thwart infection. And we all know that's a huge concern even in the best hospitals. Plus, vitamin C helps flush out any drugs or anesthesia you may have received during your hospital stay.

Bottom line? Prevent potential problems and supplement with extra vitamin C before you enter the hospital. And definitely pack a bottle of it during your hospital stay. Just don't count on your nurse to add it to your little cup of pills. In fact, you may have to sneak it in between hospital rounds. (I've done that a few times myself!)

If you're recovering from an illness or preparing surgery, take 1,000 mg of C three times a day. That's quite a bit more than the Canadians used in their study. But if you're recovering from an illness or surgery, you'll need it. It's essential as your body repairs itself and returns to optimal health.

Plus, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, so any extra your body doesn't need will get flushed.

For normal vitamin C maintenance, take 1,000 mg of C twice a day. But don't go for time-released preparations as these are a waste of money. Vitamin C only stays in your body for a few hours at a time.