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Vitamin D Increases Bone Health in People on Seizure Medications

Seizures affect 2.7 million Americans of all ages, with 200,000 new cases diagnosed every year. They affect 10% of the American population at least once in their lifetime.

Fortunately, medications to treat seizures, called Anti-Epileptic Drug Therapy (AED), have been successful in helping seizure patients manage their symptoms. But these medications have a serious side effect of decreasing bone mineral density and significantly increasing the risk for osteoporosis. As a result, ways to help patients on AED therapy maintain their bone health is a priority.

A new study has found that high-dose vitamin D supplementation may be an effective way for patients on AED therapy to maintain their bone health.

In the study, researchers gave 72 adults aged 18-54 years on AED therapy and 78 children aged 10-18 on AED therapy either 400 or 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day (adults) and 400 or 2,000 IU per day (children) for one year. They then proceeded to measure bone mineral density (BMD) in five different sites: the lumbar spine, the arm, and 3 parts of the hip.

The researchers found “significant increases” in BMD at all skeletal sites measured in the high vitamin D groups for both adults and children. No increases were seen, however, in the low dose groups.

While admitting that “there are currently no widely accepted guidelines for treating diseases of bone metabolism in epilepsy”, the researchers concluded that “high-dose vitamin D therapy substantially increased bone mineral density at several skeletal sites” and that both [2,000 IU in children and 4,000 IU in adults per day] resulted in comparable increases in bone mass.”


Mikati MA. Two randomized vitamin D trials in ambulatory patients on anticonvulsants: Impact on bone. Neurology 2006; 67(11): 2005-2014.

Key concepts: Vitamin D, calcium, anti-epileptic drug therapy, bone density, bmd