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.
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 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: