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Autistic adults might also be helped by vitamin D

Posted on: May 27, 2011   by  John Cannell, MD


Upon receiving the following letter I was so glad to find out that I may be wrong, that adults with autism – not just young children – may be helped with vitamin D.

Dear Dr. Cannell:

I have a 19 year old boy with autism. I include a brief summary of Jake’s development with the hope of helping with his data collection.  I have tape from before the vitamin D and I will tape Jake now so we can have video proof of this amazing change.  And, oh yes, don’t give up on the adults.  My favorite saying is “everyone can always do better.”

Jake is a 19 year old young man with regressive autism, having been born perfectly normal, and actually progressed ahead of schedule until a series of ear infections, oral antibiotics, immunizations, and an exposure to the wild virus strain of chicken pox caused Jake to suffer a loss of language, eye contact, joint attention, behavioral self-modulation, and a general ability to verbally communicate his needs, problems, and pain. He developed a severe and persistent gastrointestinal overgrowth of yeast, alternating constipation and diarrhea, food allergies, seasonal allergies, enterocolitis, and lymphoid hyperplasia, that could be so painfully debilitating that it caused him to cry and scream, try to find physically comfortable positions, and miss many days of school.

Jake has been maintained on a strict casein and gluten free diet for 6 years, with variable and minor improvement. He continued to battle chronic yeast overgrowth, clostridia, and alternating diarrhea and constipation, abdominal pain, gas, bloating, and failed to progress in terms of acquisition of social and language skills, to the degree it seemed he should. His tantruming, mood changes, and behavioral outbursts, in retrospect, were essentially all related to his state of bowel function and discomfort.

Treatments have been somewhat helpful, such as oral immunoglobulin, B12 injections, complex supplementation, however his progress has been at a standstill and his language has not had any major improvements in 7 years.  Although he can express his most basic needs, conversation is extremely difficult for him.

I started supplementing with Vitamin D, 2000 IU a day, on April 15 and have increased his dose to 6000 IU a day just last week.  It seemed that he was having a bit more language on just the 2000 IU but it was hard to tell.  Last week, after he had been on 6,000 IU for several weeks, it seemed as if everyone began to notice.  Just yesterday I received a call from his staff that was so excited to report that “Jake cannot stop talking”.

We are seeing the same improvement at home.  Not only talk but singing as well.  The complex language is amazing, he asked me “why would you limit that”  and when he told me he had a bad dream he said ” I’m crying because I had a bad dream that I got sick and died”.  Prior to this I would have just assumed that he woke crying because his stomach was bothering him.  He would have never been able to explain his problem in fact I didn’t even realize he knew the concept of a dream.  Today I increased his dose to 10,000 IU per day.  I’ll keep him on this dose for several weeks before running another level.  His first level was 17 ng/ml.

Thanks again, Dr. Cannell, I’ll keep you updated on his progress.

With warmest regards, and gratitude for your work.


Dear Mary:

Somewhere in a previous newsletter, I wrongly predicted (I hope) that older autistic subjects would not respond to vitamin D.  Obviously, one case report does not prove the point but now I believe all autistic adults should start taking 10,000 IU per day immediately. My reasoning is simple, 10,000 IU/day will not harm autistic adults and it may help, it is just that simple.

Obtain a 25(OH)D in two months and adjust the dose as need to obtain levels of 80-100 ng/ml. Never have I been so glad that I was wrong.

Also, be it autistic child or autistic adult, if you want to bring your loved one to our new free clinic, but can’t afford the travel costs, maybe lifetime donors will allow some of their donation to be used for travel.  I can certainly coach you via email and phone.  It is not that difficult to get one’s vitamin D level into the high range of normal while avoiding excess preformed retinol.

Mary, you have my phone number, call if you have questions, and let me know his responses and the blood test results.


John Cannell

2 Responses to Autistic adults might also be helped by vitamin D

  1. [email protected]

    Thanks for all your work.

    I would like to have your permission to send this little piece of evidence to Mrs. Ed, or perhaps you could send it to her directly.

    Best regards.

  2. Brant Cebulla

    Serdna975, you absolutely may!

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