When it comes to helping in the battle against inflammation in every part of the body the corticosteroids are a very useful class of drugs. However, lurking in this general usefulness is a medium to longer term problem. Unfortunately, these drugs interact with the vitamins already in your body and cause their loss. In the short term, the loss of vitamins is not threatening but, when seen alongside the other side effects, this poses a major long-term threat to your health. It is one you ignore at your peril. So we need to start by understanding what a vitamin is and how it helps you stay healthy. Then identify the particular vitamins you will lose and what to do about this loss.
Derived from the liquids you drink and the food you eat, a vitamin is an organic compound that is an essential part of keeping yourself healthy. There are thirteen different vitamins, each one associated with a particular type of action in the body. Some like vitamin A are a part of the process of cell growth, while vitamin D acts in rather the same way as hormones. Each is “vital to life”. Put the other way round, a deficiency is harmful to life. So which are affected by the corticosteroids?
The largest group falls into vitamin B. We start with B-6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxamine and pyridoxal) which helps your body make red blood cells, keeps the balance of blood sugar levels, and keeps your lymph system healthy. You will get your daily dose by eating green vegetables, bananas, chickpeas, some varieties of nuts and potatoes. Vitamin B-12 (cyanocobalamin, hydroxycobalamin and methylcobalamin) is essential to the process for making new cells and keeps your nervous system healthy. The loss of either or both vitamins B usually results in anemia. Fortunately, meat and animal products are rich in this vitamin so it should be easy to maintain an adequate intake unless you are vegetarian. Again fortune shines because the different vitamins B were among the first synthesized and they are cheaply available as pills. Also one of the vitamins B, folic acid supports new cell growth and is particularly important during pregnancy. Vitamin D (cholecalciferol) keeps your bones healthy, i.e. if there is a deficit, usually producing rickets. You find it naturally in fatty fish like salmon, liver, eggs, and dairy products.
Vitamin loss is possible within two weeks of starting to take Prednisone so you should speak to your doctor and arrange for regular blood tests to monitor for deficiencies. If you find one of more of the vitamins has been affected, you can quickly adjust by using supplements. Once you have achieved a balance, you should maintain it by making dietary changes to ensure you get your necessary daily intake through what you eat and drink. However if you are going to take Prednisone over any length of time or there will be several bursts, supplements may be the more reliable way of dealing with the problem.