Vitamin D and Your Health Autism
Evidence Autism Responds To Sunlight and Vitamin D
Do vitamin D-containing multivitamins help children's brains?
Evidence that vitamin D affects mental abilities comes from a series of 14 controlled studies evaluating the effect of vitamin D-containing multivitamins on childhood intelligence. All 14 studies they reviewed reported small (1–2%) to modest (5–6%) improvements, usually in nonverbal IQ. Lancet published the first study in 1988. More interestingly, most studies showed no effect on the majority of children but very significant effects (15% gains) in about 20% of children, perhaps the vitamin D-deficient subgroup. Something in the multivitamins helped some of the children's brains quite a bit. Was it the vitamin D? Benton D, Roberts G. Effect of vitamin and mineral supplementation on intelligence of a sample of schoolchildren. Lancet. 1988 Jan 23;1(8578):140–3.
Does autism improve in the summer?
If vitamin D was involved in autism, then symptoms might improve in the summer, when vitamin D levels are the highest. To the best of my knowledge, no controlled studies of such seasonality exist. A case study reported dramatic improvements in both sleep and behavioral problems in an autistic Japanese boy in the summer. Others reported significant improvements in autistic behaviors during a summer camp program that included swimming, hiking, boating, and other activities that would increase brain levels of activated vitamin D. Hayashi E, et al. Seasonal changes in sleep and behavioral problems in a pubescent case with autism. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2001 Jun;55(3):223–4. Hung DW, Thelander MJ. Summer camp treatment program for autistic children. Except Child. 1978 Apr;44(7):534–6.
Can autistic children get better?
We don't know although most do not. However, if vitamin D is involved in autism then young autistic children, whose brains have not been irreparably damaged, may improve if they move to sunnier latitudes, increase their sun exposure, or start consuming more vitamin D in their diet. Consistent with the theory, not all children diagnosed with autism keep that diagnosis in adulthood and a few children either improve spontaneously or improve after one of the numerous treatment programs available. Naturally, any reports of improvement generate suspicion that the initial diagnosis was incorrect—an obvious possibility. A controlled 3-month study of 20 autistic children found that multivitamins with even low doses of vitamin D (150 units) improved symptoms compared to placebo. What would physiological doses of vitamin D do? Adams JB, Holloway C. Pilot study of a moderate dose multivitamin/mineral supplement for children with autistic spectrum disorder. J Altern Complement Med. 2004 Dec;10(6):1033–9.» page: autism index 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11