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Does the type of epilepsy medication affect vitamin D status?

Posted on: September 8, 2014   by  Vitamin D Council


New research from the journal Epilepsy Research has found that vitamin D deficiency affects epileptic patients differently depending on the anti-epileptic drug they are taking.

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects the activity of nerve cells in your brain, causing epileptic seizures. The severity of seizures varies from blankly staring for a few seconds to long periods of shaking. An epilepsy diagnosis is made when someone experiences two or more seizures.

A common treatment for epilepsy is the use of antiepileptic drugs (AEDs). The two main types are enzyme inducing drugs and non-enzyme inducing drugs. Enzyme inducing AEDs increase the activity of certain enzymes and are known to put patients at risk for osteoporosis by accelerating bone loss and decreasing bone mineral density.

Since vitamin D plays a central role in bone health, researchers wanted to examine the difference between the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among those who take enzyme inducing AEDs and those who take non-enzyme inducing AEDs.

In order to do this, researchers enrolled 596 patients with epilepsy into a three year study. Some of the patients were taking enzyme inducing AEDs while others were taking non-enzyme inducing AEDs.

The prevalence of vitamin D levels below 20 ng/ml among all patients, regardless of their medication, was 45%. Vitamin D deficiency, as categorized by a level of 20 ng/ml or less, was present among 54% of the patients taking enzyme inducing AEDs, versus 37% of patients taking non-enzyme inducing AEDs.

Based on their results, the researchers concluded, “Monitoring of vitamin D should be considered as part of the routine management of patients with epilepsy.”


Teagarden D, Meador K, & Loring D. Low vitamin D levels are common in patients with epilepsy. Epilepsy Research, 2014.

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