Can Vitamin D Improve Autism? A Mother’s View & New Research
According to one mum, vitamin D is responsible for improving her son’s life with autism.
The mother, named Michelle from Minnesota, related her story to Dr. John Cannell at the Vitamin D Council.
In her letter, she stated that because of vitamin D, her son’s speech, eye contact and social skills have improved. Read it for yourself below.
Vitamin D for Autism: A Mother's Experience
“Thank you for sharing your information on vitamin D as it changed my life and the life of my son. My son is 8 years old now and is coming along nicely. I attribute it all to vitamin D."
"I put him in a pre-K 3 program at a Catholic school for 2 1/2 hours a day. I often was called into school to pick him up as he was crying so much he fell asleep on the floor. He had a difficult time following directions. They suggested I get him tested.
"When he was 3 1/2 years old, I took him to see a child neurologist and I was told he was on the “autism spectrum”. Colby could not follow a simple command. The doctor asked him to put a ball on the table. Colby couldn’t do it. He wasn’t talking. Poor eye contact. If we had to make a U-turn in the car, he would cry and get upset.
"It was hard for me and my older son. The public school system put him in a self-contained classroom. His best friend was missing a chromosome. They thought he should be in school all year, so he went to school during the summer too.
"At this point I started doing research. My uncle, a chiropractor from Florida, suggested I look you and the vitamin D Council up. I did. I realized that I gave birth in September in NJ. I did not go in the sun much because I was so big. It was my 2nd child and I wasn’t the best taking my vitamins. So, I assume I was lacking in my vitamin D.
"After he was born, I breastfed him, thinking that was the best thing to do for him. I didn’t know I had to supplement vitamin D. I didn’t do it. It was winter, and Colby did not get any sun till almost a 10 months later and I of course, used sunscreen. He started drinking cow’s milk at age 13 months.
"At approximately 3 years 10 months, after reading all the information you posted about Vitamin D, I began giving my son various amounts of vitamin D3. Some days 6,000 IUs. Some days 10,000 IUs. Some days I forgot. I really wasn’t sure if it would work and didn’t want to over do it. I also watched the sunscreen usage. I would prevent sunburns but made sure he got as much sun as possible in the summer.
"When he turned five years old, we moved to a new town and I put him in a regular Kindergarten class at a Catholic school. I asked the teacher if she saw any issues, not telling her of his background. She didn’t see any. There were some things he needed to work on like pronunciation and fine motor skills, but nothing else. What a major turn around.
"Today, Colby is 8 years old. He has eye contact now. He’s in a regular classroom. He can follow directions. He plays baseball and swims. He talks up a storm. He has friends.
"He is chatty. Sometimes kids can talk and talk and it bothers adults if they are trying to drive or concentrate on something else. But I think back of when he was silent. And I’m so thankful to be bothered by his chattiness.
"I also give you a heartfelt thank you for publishing the benefits of vitamin D in autism. It changed my life. It changed my son’s life. It changed the life of my family. I wanted you to know.”
Vitamin D and Autism Link
There are many studies which highlight the link between vitamin D intake and autism.
One, published in 2012, indicated that vitamin D deficiency – either during pregnancy or early childhood – may act as a trigger for autism in genetically predisposed individuals.
Specifically, serotonin, vitamin D, and tryptophan have been cited as practical and affordable solutions to help prevent and treat autism symptoms.
Vitamin D activates the transcription of the serotonin-synthesising gene tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (TPH2) in the brain at a vitamin D response element (VDRE) and represses the transcription of TPH1 in tissues outside the blood-brain barrier at a distinct VDRE (Patrick & Ames, 2014).
Another ecological study correlated solar UV-B doses in the United States with prevalence of autism among those aged 6-17 years old; findings were consistent with childhood vitamin D deficiency contributing to the condition.
Furthermore, research suggests that higher serum 25(OH)D concentrations may reduce the symptoms of autism. Because activated vitamin D up-regulates DNA-repair genes, vitamin D deficiency during development could inhibit the repair of de novo DNA mutations in foetuses and infants and thus contribute to autism risk.
What's more, vitamin D may reduce the risk or severity of autism through its anti-inflammatory actions, anti-autoimmune effects, increasing seizure threshold, increasing T-regulatory cells and protecting the mitochondria.
Vitamin D's up-regulation of glutathione, which scavenges oxidative by-products and chelates (captures and excretes) heavy metals, may be another factor.
In a paper published in May, 2018, Dr. Cannell noted: "I have treated around 200 autistic children with high-dose vitamin D and about two-thirds respond, often dramatically.
"The dose ranges from 300 to 500 IU/kg/day. These doses require monitoring of vitamin D levels [25(OH)D] to ensure they are less than 120 ng/ml but higher than 80 ng/nl."
We have ourselves written an in-depth article looking at vitamin D for babies and children, and another investigating the extent to which vitamin D side effects occur. It is an interesting subject, and one we will continue to explore.
Incidentally, if you're interested in supplementing with vitamin D, we offer highly pure sublingual tablets from Frunutta. These small, potent tablets are designed to be taken under the tongue, where they dissolve and quickly enter the bloodstream.
Frunutta's Vitamin D3 is preservative-free, non-GMO, and contains no fillers, dye or gluten. Each pack provides 100 servings and two strengths are offered: 5,000 IU or 1,000 IU.
Cannell, J., & Grant, W. (2013). What is the role of vitamin D in autism? Dermato-Endocrinology, 199-204.
Ko?ovská, E., Fernell, E., Billstedt, E., Minnis, H., & Gillberg, C. (2012). Vitamin D and autism: Clinical review. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 1541-1550.
Patrick, R., & Ames, B. (2014). Vitamin D hormone regulates serotonin synthesis. Part 1: Relevance for autism. Nutrition and Metabolism Center, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute.