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Autism and Vitamin D

January 2014

By John Cannell, MD

Response Rates

To date, I have noticed that children who fall in one of the following categories tend to respond positively to vitamin D:

  1. 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.
  2. Children who had a period of early normal development (as opposed to those who seem affected even as infants) seem to respond better.
  3. Children with mild or moderate autism seem to respond better.
  4. 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® Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.

For further information, please contact:
John Cannell, MD
1411 Marsh Street, Suite 203
San Luis Obispo, CA 93401


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