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:
Incidence of autism increases in the
past 20 years with increasing medical advice to avoid the sun, potentially lowering
serum levels of vitamin D;
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
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;
Children with vitamin D deficiency
rickets carry several autistic markers that disappear with high-dose vitamin D treatment;
Estrogen and testosterone have
different effects on calcitriol’s metabolism, potentially explaining why more
males suffer autism than females;
Calcitriol down-regulates the production
of cytokines in the brain, which are associated with autism;
Prenatal intake of vitamin D containing
fish reduces symptoms of autism in offspring
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;
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.
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
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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