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Dear Dr. Cannell: improved autism symptoms in one week

Posted on: September 29, 2015   by  John Cannell, MD


Dear Dr. Cannell:

My son recently turned 12-years-old and has higher functioning autism or Asperger’s. A week ago we started 10,000 IU of liquid vitamin D daily (our son weighs roughly 90 lbs.). We seem to have noticed some quite positive changes in language and interactions already in good chunks of time though perhaps not consistent.

Our son used to go back to school in Boston, MA from summer vacation and his teachers would consistently say how amazing he was doing upon his return (vitamin D from sun on vacation?). However, over time his work did not remain consistent and he would worsen over the winter.

My wife recently learned that she has a significant vitamin D deficiency, and I have an enzyme deficiency (and could easily be vitamin D deficient). Please let us know how else we might proceed. Thank you so much for your wonderful efforts. You are making a vital contribution to so many people. Upon subsequent reading of other medical articles for my master’s program, they certainly seem to strongly substantiate many-to-all of your views.

Thank you again,

Jim, Boston MA

Dear Jim:

You are welcome but please remember, in my experience, only 25% of autistic children have dramatic responses to vitamin D. Another 50% have significant responses and 25% have no response at all.

Also, check the directions on your liquid vitamin D. Some products are 5,000 IU/drop and other 5,000 IU/dropper-full. That’s about a 30-fold difference. Giving one dropper-full/day of the former is about 150,000 IU/day.

As far as your son, one week of 10,000 IU/day seems a little early to improve ASD symptoms. I give a number of case examples in my book, which has recently been released.

Autism Causes, Prevention and Treatment: Vitamin D Deficiency and the Explosive Rise of Autism Spectrum Disorder

When it becomes available, switch your son to 3 capsules/day of D3Plus and one capsule/day of 5,000 IU of vitamin D3, for a total of 10,000 IU/day. If he can’t swallow the capsules, simply cut them in half with a scissors and put the contents in a smoothie.

After 3 months of supplementation, I recommend testing his vitamin D level to ensure that it is around 80 ng/ml. Adjust the dose according to his blood level. Again, I explain all of this in detail in my book.

Just recently, the widely respected journal, Pediatrics, had a case report of an ASD child with dramatically improved autism symptoms after high dose supplementation of vitamin D, with a final 25(OH)D of around 80 ng/ml (200 nmol/l).

Case report: vitamin D supplementation improves symptoms of autism

Also, a new study showed that newborns who later develop ASD have lower vitamin D levels at birth than do their typically developing siblings.

Children with autism have lower vitamin D levels at birth than siblings, new study shows

This implies that ASD children have genetically lower vitamin D levels at birth, and goes a long way in discovering the gene-environmental interaction that causes autism. It is gratifying that some researchers are finally beginning to take the link between autism and vitamin D seriously.

I hope your son continues to improve.

John Cannell, MD

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