People on oral steroids are twice as likely to suffer from severe vitamin D deficiency than the general populace, says new research.
The study on 31,000 children and adults, suggests that physicians should monitor vitamin D levels more diligently in patients being treated with oral steroids.
When doctors prescribe steroids, they should also get the vitamin D level of patients measured, said Amy Skversky, assistant professor of paediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Severe vitamin D deficiency is known to be linked with bone softening, rickets, and muscle weakness.
Steroids have been shown to cause vitamin D deficiency, possibly by increasing levels of an enzyme that inactivates the vitamin, according to an Einstein College statement.
Smaller studies involving people often prescribed steroids (children with asthma and patients with Crohn’s disease and lupus) have found significantly reduced vitamin D levels in them, reports The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
The risk was particularly pronounced for steroid users under 18 years, who were 14 times more likely to have a severe vitamin D deficiency compared with young non-steroid users.