Addison's disease, also called primary adrenal insufficiency, is a rare condition that affects your body's ability to produce adrenal hormones. Treatment for Addison's disease requires oral medications to replace these hormones, including corticosteroids and mineralocorticoids. There's no special diet you must follow with Addison's disease, but additional calcium and vitamin D may be beneficial and increasing your sodium intake may be recommended under certain circumstances.
Calcium, Vitamin D and Corticosteroids
Corticosteroids generally impact bone health by decreasing bone formation, and regular use of this medication may increase your risk of osteoporosis. Thirty to 50 percent of people taking corticosteroids for other conditions suffer from osteoporotic fractures, according to an April 2009 review article published in "Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Diseases." To prevent osteoporosis due to your long-term need for corticosteroids, your doctor may recommend calcium and vitamin D supplements. Including calcium- and vitamin D-rich foods may also help maintain bone health.
Mineralocorticoids help the body maintain normal levels of sodium. People with untreated Addison's disease have low levels of sodium, which can cause serious problems such as low blood pressure, seizures and even coma. Treatment with mineralocorticoids will maintain normal levels of sodium most of the time. However, if a lot of sodium is being lost from the body, as may occur with excessive sweating, sodium levels may fall. Talk to your doctor about whether you should increase your sodium intake in hot weather, especially if you are exercising outside.
Is This an Emergency?
- Clinical Medicine: Adrenal Insufficiency
- Therapeutic Advances in Musculoskeletal Diseases: Glucocorticoid-Induced Osteoporosis: Treatment Update and Review
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin D
- The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: Addison’s Disease 2001