Asthma: Steroids & Nutrition

Reviewed by David Tinkelman, MD

Some people with chronic lung disease, including asthma, take steroid pills on a regular basis. Steroid pills (such as prednisone or methylprednisolone) are strong medicines that decrease swollen airways. They also have some nutritional side effects to be aware of. Steroid therapy has the potential to interfere with the way the body uses specific nutrients, including calcium, potassium, sodium, protein, and vitamins D and C.


If you take steroid pills for asthma, it is very important to:

  • Eat a well balanced diet that meets the Food Pyramid Guidelines. A healthy diet that includes foods from each food group can make up for some of the nutritional effects of steroid therapy.

  • Eat foods high in calcium, such as dairy products. Over a long period of time, steroid pills can increase the risk of osteoporosis (loss of calcium in the bones).

  • Limit the use of salt and foods that are high in sodium and decrease the amount of cholesterol and fats in your diet to prevent other side effects

  • Take certain supplements, such as calcium and a multivitamin.

  • Talk with your doctor or a registered dietitian about specific concerns regarding steroids and your diet.

  • Learn more about steroids.

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