Autism and Vitamin DJanuary 2014
By John Cannell, MD
To date, I have noticed that children who fall in one of the following categories tend to respond positively to vitamin D:
- Children with reported seasonality of autistic symptoms (such as those with summer access to a swimming pool or similar extensive outdoor activities, in which the child is much better in late summer than he or she is in late winter) usually respond better.
- Children who had a period of early normal development (as opposed to those who seem affected even as infants) seem to respond better.
- Children with mild or moderate autism seem to respond better.
- Children under the age of eight seem to respond better than older children do.
However, none of these, except perhaps a very distinct seasonality of symptoms, clearly predicts a response to vitamin D. In the same vein, some parents tell me that children with infantile onset of symptoms, children with more severe autism, or children older than eight have responded.
Unfortunately, my experience is that the 10-20% of children with known genetic causes of autism (such as Rett syndrome, fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, clear mitochondrial defects, submicroscopic deletions or duplications in DNA sequences, or deletions or duplications of chromosome regions) do not respond to vitamin D.
Parents who want me to participate in the diagnosis and treatment of their autistic child should contact my office in San Luis Obispo, California, for an appointment. There I will fully assess your child and give treatment recommendations to the parents. I will also be available for a limited number of tele-educational sessions via Skype, in which I will educate parents about vitamin D and its cofactors.
Over the past few years evidence has been mounting that vitamin D is involved in the autism epidemic. Research has demonstrated that vitamin D has multiple mechanisms of action, many of which have been demonstrated to play a role in autism. Scientific data have made it clear that various reasonable mechanisms exist for how vitamin D could help children with autism. Be it via anti-inflammatory actions, anti-autoimmune activities, upregulation of neurotrophins, or stimulation of antioxidant pathways, adequate doses of vitamin D (enough to obtain natural levels of 50-80 ng/mL) may be a potential treatment for some cases of autism.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.
For further information, please contact:
John Cannell, MD
1411 Marsh Street, Suite 203
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
- de Borst MH, de Boer RA, Stolk RP, Slaets JP, Wolffenbuttel BH, Navis G. Vitamin D deficiency: universal risk factor for multifactorial diseases? Curr Drug Targets. 2011 Jan;12(1):97-106.
- Carlberg C, Seuter S, de Mello VD, et al. Primary vitamin D target genes allow a categorization of possible benefits of vitamin D₃ supplementation. PLoS One. 2013 Jul 29;8(7):e71042.
- Available at: http://www.genome.gov/27551473. Accessed October 9, 2013.
- Cannell JJ. Autism and vitamin D. Med Hypotheses. 2008;70:750-9.
- Cannell JJ. On the aetiology of autism. Acta Paediatr. 2010 Aug;99(8):1128-30.
- Available at: http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2009/apr2009_The-Link-Between-Autism-and-Low-Levels-of-Vitamin-D_01.htm. Accessed October 9, 2013.
- Available at: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-psychiatry/201104/autism-and-vitamin-d. Accessed October 9, 2013.
- Available at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=vitamin-d-and-autism. Accessed October 9, 2013.
- Kinney DK, Barch DH, Chayka B, Napoleon S, Munir KM. Environmental risk factors for autism: do they help cause de novo genetic mutations that contribute to the disorder? Med Hypotheses. 2010 Jan;74(1):102-6.
- Kočovská E, Fernell E, Billstedt E, Minnis H, Gillberg C. Vitamin D and autism: clinical review. Res Dev Disabil. 2012 Sep-Oct;33(5):1541-50.
- El-Ansary A, Al-Ayadhi L. Neuroinflammation in autism spectrum disorders. J Neuroinflammation. 2012 Dec 11;9:265.
- Depino AM. Peripheral and central inflammation in autism spectrum disorders. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2013 Mar;53:69-76.
- Guillot X, Semerano L, Saidenberg-Kermanac’h N, Falgarone G, Boissier MC. Vitamin D and inflammation. Joint Bone Spine. 2010 Dec;77(6):552-7.
- Olliver M, Spelmink L, Hiew J, Meyer-Hoffert U, Henriques-Normark B, Bergman P. Immunomodulatory effects of vitamin D on innate and adaptive immune responses to Streptococcus pneumoniae. J Infect Dis. 2013 Nov;208(9):1474-1481. Epub 2013 Aug 6.
- Baeke F, Takiishi T, Korf H, Gysemans C, Mathieu C. Vitamin D: modulator of the immune system. Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2010 Aug;10(4):482-96.
- Krishnan AV, Feldman D. Molecular pathways mediating the anti-inflammatory effects of calcitriol: implications for prostate cancer chemoprevention and treatment. Endocr Relat Cancer. 2010 Jan 29;17(1):R19-38.
- Tamiji J, Crawford DA.The neurobiology of lipid metabolism in autism spectrum disorders. Neurosignals. 2010;18(2):98-112. Epub 2011 Feb 4.
- Liu X, Nelson A, Wang X, et al. Vitamin D modulates PGE2 synthesis and degradation in human lung fibroblasts. Am J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2013 Aug 13.
- Ziats MN, Rennert OM. Expression profiling of autism candidate genes during human brain development implicates central immune signaling pathways. PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24691.
- Chen Y, Zhang J, Ge X, Du J, Deb DK, Li YC. Vitamin D receptor inhibits nuclear factor κB activation by interacting with IκB kinase β protein. J Biol Chem. 2013 Jul 5;288(27):19450-8.
- Available at: http://autoimmune.pathology.jhmi.edu/faqs.cfm. Accessed October 10, 2013.
- Singh VK, Rivas WH. Prevalence of serum antibodies to caudate nucleus in autistic children. Neurosci Lett. 2004 Jan 23;355(1-2):53-6.
- Cabanlit M, Wills S, Goines P, Ashwood P, Van de Water J. Brain-specific autoantibodies in the plasma of subjects with autistic spectrum disorder. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2007 Jun;1107:92-103.
- Mostafa GA, Al-Ayadhi LY. Increased serum levels of anti-ganglioside M1 auto-antibodies in autistic children: relation to the disease severity. J Neuroinflammation. 2011 Apr 25;8:39.
- Goines P, Haapanen L, Boyce R, et al. Autoantibodies to cerebellum in children with autism associate with behavior. Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Mar;25(3):514-23.
- Mostafa GA, Al-Ayadhi LY. Reduced serum concentrations of 25-hydroxy vitamin D in children with autism: Relation to autoimmunity. J Neuroinflammation. 2012 Aug 17;9(1):201.
- Neveu I, Naveilhan P, Jehan F, Baudet C, Wion D, De Luca HF, Brachet P. 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 regulates the synthesis of nerve growth factor in primary cultures of glial cells. Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 1994 Jul;24(1-4):70-6.
- Orme RP, Bhangal MS, Fricker RA. Calcitriol imparts neuroprotection in vitro to midbrain dopaminergic neurons by upregulating GDNF expression. PLoS One. 2013 Apr 23;8(4):e62040.
- Holtzman DM, Mobley WC. Neurotrophic factors and neurologic disease. West J Med. 1994 Sep;161(3):246-54.
- Garcion E, Thanh XD, Bled F, et al. 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D3 regulates gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase activity in rat brain. Neurosci Lett. 1996 Oct 4;216(3):183-6.
- Garcion E, Wion-Barbot N, Montero-Menei CN, Berger F, Wion D. New clues about vitamin D functions in the nervous system. Trends Endocrinol Metab. 2002;13(3):100–5.
- Sears ME. Chelation: harnessing and enhancing heavy metal detoxification--a review. ScientificWorldJournal. 2013 Apr 18;2013:219840.
- James SJ, Slikker W 3rd, Melnyk S, New E, Pogribna M, Jernigan S. Thimerosal neurotoxicity is associated with glutathione depletion: protection with glutathione precursors. Neurotoxicology. 2005 Jan;26(1):1-8.
- Halicka HD, Zhao H, Li J, Traganos F, Studzinski GP, Darzynkiewicz Z. Attenuation of constitutive DNA damage signaling by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. Aging (Albany NY). 2012 Apr 11.
- Heaney RP. Assessing vitamin D status. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2011 Sep;14(5):440-4.