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Diet & Health : Children & Women Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM


Vitamin D deficiency may raise risk of autism
By David Liu Ph.D.
Dec 11, 2008 - 12:57:08 PM

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Wednesday Dec 11, 2008 (foodconsumer.org) -- John Cannell, MD, founder of Vitamin D Council, a non-profit educational organization, published an excellent article this year proposing a theory that many cases of autism if not all have something to do with vitamin D deficiency.

 

He acknowledged that many factors including genetics may be implicated in autism. But he suggested that vitamin D deficiency may be one factor that triggers autism.  And evidence is abundant.

 

Below are the observations that he presented to support his theory:

 

1)       Incidence of autism increases in the past 20 years with increasing medical advice to avoid the sun, potentially lowering serum levels of vitamin D;

2)       Animal studies have showed severe vitamin D deficiency dysregulates dozens of proteins involved in brain development resulting in rat pups with enlarged brains and ventricles, abnormalities similar to those found in   autistic children;

3)       Children with the William Syndrome who have greatly elevated calcitriol , the most potent form of vitamin D, in early infancy often have phenotypes that are the opposite of autism;

4)       Children with vitamin D deficiency rickets carry several autistic markers that disappear with high-dose vitamin D treatment;

5)       Estrogen and testosterone have different effects on calcitriol’s metabolism, potentially explaining why more males suffer autism than females;

6)       Calcitriol down-regulates the production of cytokines in the brain, which are associated with autism;

7)       Prenatal intake of vitamin D containing fish reduces symptoms of autism in offspring

8)        Autism is more common in areas where people are less likely to often expose themselves to the sun and they are less likely to have sufficient vitamin D;

9)       Autism is found more common in dark-skinned persons and severe material vitamin D deficiency suggesting that vitamin D deficiency may be a cause for autism;

 

Dr. Cannell said a few simple studies can be performed to prove or disprove that the association between vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of autism is a causal relationship.

 

Dr. Cannell suggested in an email that vitamin D contained in prenatal vitamins (400 IU) is meaningless and inconsequential. He said pregnant women need at least 5,000 IU per day to achieve adequate blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D at a level greater than 50 ng per ml.   Also pregnant women need to avoid vitamin A (except in the form of beta-carotene) and vitamin A loaded cod liver oil. Vitamin A has a negative impact on the functionality of vitamin D.

 

For those who want to help their autistic children who are likely to be vitamin D deficient, Dr. Cannell suggested they give their children enough vitamin D in doses that can raise their serum levels of 25(OH)D up to 70 to 90 ng per mL.

 

Additionally autistic children should be tested for their serum levels of 25(OH)D.   He cautioned that as many as 25 percent of doctors order the wrong test for 1,25(OH)2D.   The ideal level is above 50 ng/mL, but the targets are 70 to 90 ng per mL.  Doctors or others may order test kits at ZRT as Dr. Cannell recommended and the contact is Mark Newman at 206 399-1950.

 

Dr. Cannell suggested that autistic children may take 5,000 of vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol daily for three weeks for each 25 pounds of body weight to raise serum levels of vitamin D up to 70 ng/mL.   The real effective dose varies from person to person and some children may need 1,000 IU daily per 25 pounds of body weight.   At three weeks, a test should be performed to know the vitamin D status and the doses may be adjusted.

 

The suggested dosage looks high, but Dr. Cannell said any toxicity is unlikely because rare cases of toxicity were found only when vitamin D levels reached greater than 150 ng/mL.

 

This vitamin D program is intended to treat vitamin D deficiency, not autistic symptoms. But if there is any benefit, that would be a bonus, Dr. Cannell said.


Editor's note: Like anything else, information included in the article does not mean to be any medical advice.  It is for your information only.  Dr. John Cannell, the author and foodconsumer.org are not reliable for anything you experience should you follow the suggestion given in the article.  If you have any medical condition, you are advised to consult with your doctors.









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