Updated: Nov 4, 2019
Autism is one of the fastest growing developmental disabilities today with an increase of 119.4% from 2000 to 2010 . Its prevalence is now 1 in 68 live births in the United States . While autism rates are soaring, many parents are frustrated and tired. These parents are not only searching for a cause but also looking for any way that they can help their child.
It seems that research is starting to link low vitamin D levels to autism. While the cause of autism seems to be multifactorial, addressing low vitamin D levels may be promising in helping to alleviate the symptoms of autism.
Recent studies have shown that vitamin D levels under 40 ng/ml in infancy and early childhood could be the cause of some cases of autism. In two recent studies, high dose vitamin D was found to improve the core symptoms of autism in 75% of the children participating in the study .
Contrary to what many believe, vitamin D is so much more than just a "vitamin".
Vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone produced by the body that regulates approximately 3% of the 26,000 genes in the human coding genome and it also responsible for brain development and cell growth .
A study in 2006 reported that approximately 10% of children and adolescents aged 6-18 years old in the United States had inadequate vitamin D levels (less than 16 ng/ml) while 4.6% had frank vitamin D deficiency with levels less than 12 ng/ml . Adolescents and obese children, as well as girls and children with darker skin were more at risk for vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency .
Low vitamin D levels have been linked to a number of diseases including rickets, osteomalacia (softening of the bones), low calcium levels, seizures, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and autism .
One study analyzed groups of siblings in which one child had ASD (autism spectrum disorder) and another did not.
All of the children with ASD were found to have significantly lower levels of vitamin D than their typical siblings .
Clearly vitamin D is a powerful vitamin necessary for the proper functioning of our bodies. If you have a child with ASD, then having his/her vitamin D levels evaluated could be a good start.
Although the test for a vitamin D level is a simple blood draw, what you find may have a major impact on your child's health.
It is not recommended to take vitamin D in high doses without first knowing your vitamin D levels and without proper supervision from a licensed health care professional because vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin.
Too much can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, and kidney stones.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that seems to be lacking in many of our children's diets these days especially in those who have ASD.
It is quite possible that in addressing and correcting these inadequate vitamin D levels, the symptoms of autism can be alleviated.
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2. Cannell, J.J. Rev Endocr Metab Disord (2017). doi:10.1007/s11154-017-9409-0
3."Vitamin D Deficiency And Related Disorders: Practice Essentials, Background, Pathophysiology". Emedicine.medscape.com. N.p., 2017.
4.Ariganjoye, Rafiu. “Pediatric Hypovitaminosis D: Molecular Perspectives and Clinical Implications.” Global Pediatric Health 4 (2017): 2333794X16685504. PMC. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.
5.Fernell, Elisabeth et al. “Autism Spectrum Disorder and Low Vitamin D at Birth: A Sibling Control Study.” Molecular Autism 6 (2015): 3. PMC. Web. 31 Mar. 2017.