Vitamin and Mineral Depletion From Long-term Steroid Use

Prednisone and other corticosteroids have been shown to deplete the body of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, folic acid, potassium, selenium, and vitamin C. The significance of each is as follows:

Calcium and Vitamin D

Calcium is an essential mineral used by nearly every cell in the body. It is fundamental to bone health and also plays an important role in muscle contraction, transmitting messages through the nerves, and the release of hormones.

Vitamin D regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorous, and facilitates normal immune system function. It is also important for the normal growth and development of bones and teeth, as well as improved resistance against certain diseases.

Oral corticosteroids increase the risk of bone loss by reducing the absorption of calcium and interfering with the activation and metabolism of vitamin D. Patients on long-term steroid therapy are advised to monitor bone mineral density scores and take vitamin D plus calcium as a baseline therapy to help prevent steroid induced osteoporosis.


Magnesium is a mineral used by every organ in your body, especially your heart, muscles, and kidneys. Depletion from long term steroid use can cause tics, muscle spasms and cramps, seizures, anxiety, and irregular heart rhythms.

Folic acid

This important vitamin helps create new cells (including red blood cells) and aids in tissue repair. A deficiency can lead to folic acid anemia which in turn causes, fatigue, weakness, lethargy, pale skin, shortness of breath, and irritability.


Potassium is a critical mineral and electrolyte essential for proper nerve and muscle function. Long term corticosteroid users may experience increased urinary loss of this important mineral which can lead to weakness, fatigue, muscle cramps, high blood pressure, constipation, and cardiac arrhythmias.


This trace mineral is of fundamental importance to human health. It is not only a catalyst for the production of active thyroid hormone, but is also needed for the proper functioning of the immune system.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It helps the body make collagen, an important protein used to make skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. It is also needed for healing wounds, and for repairing and maintaining bones and teeth.

Unless a blood-vitamin assay is performed, or your diet is known to supply the recommended amounts of the aforementioned nutrients, supplementation will provide a little extra health insurance at a modest cost.

The following link provides the recommended daily minimum requirement for each vitamin and mineral, “informational pages” that list food sources for each, and overdose information:

5 Replies

Thank you for taking the trouble to compile and share this information Admiral06. I wonder if taking supplements of each of these would go some way towards minimising the damage?

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Greetings SheffieldJane, I hope you are well.

I have problems with a steroid related potassium defiency and try to get at least 4000 mg per day from natural sources. I am also taking 400 mg of calcium from foods, plus each of the other items on the list individually.

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Would a daily vitamin cover the bases? I already take vit c and d.


You must first look ant your diet, the minimum daily requirement on the chart, and the amount on the multivitamin label. Unfortunately many nutrients will have to be taken separately or obtained from foods. I posted a document on calcium supplementation earlier but it is no longer in the archives so I will post it again. I find this mineral to be most important and never miss my daily goal.......please read!.


Admiral06 that is so thoughtful of you thank you very very much!! Xx

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