How Can Autism Nutritional Therapy Alleviate Symptoms of Autism
Children on the autism spectrum often have a more challenging time absorbing nutrients. They generally eat very limited foods, and their digestive systems might be less effective than their neurotypical peers.
This article will offer insights into autism and nutritional deficiencies and provide a list of the most beneficial supplements for those with autism. A reminder that parents and children should always speak with a doctor before starting a new supplement regimen.
Autism and Nutritional Therapy
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals that autism affects roughly 1 in 40 children.
A chronic condition, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), tends to manifest as difficulties surrounding social interactions, communication, and behavior in general. Children with autism may also engage in repetitive movements and have difficult food habits that result in a weaker metabolism. Picky eating is common in young people with ASD.
This is where supplementation may come in. Supplements allow the body to get enough of what it needs to function more effectively. They can also help the gut with nutrient absorption. The goal here is that eventually, the body will require less help and no longer need consistent supplementation.
Ultimately, research reveals that supplements can help to restore balance in the body in patients with autism. Children diagnosed with ASD experience significant improvements after consistently taking some of the vitamins and supplements described below.
The following sections will outline the power of proper nutrition in patients with autism, including which vitamins and supplements are most effective.
How can Nutritional Therapy Help with Autism?
Dietary improvements through general changes and supplementation have been shown to help improve symptoms of autism in young people.
By enhancing the diet as a result of better food choices and mindful supplementation, parents can help their children manage the challenges they face and even alleviate autistic symptoms. Nutritional therapy can bring great changes in many cases.
This is very likely because proper nutrition is critical to brain development, metabolic health, and immunity. Many parents, teachers, and healthcare practitioners report children with autism becoming more engaged due to ongoing nutritional therapy.
In short, well-absorbed vitamins and minerals ensure children with autism receive the nutrients they need. While a significant number of ASD patients are deficient in essential nutrients, this doesn’t have to be the case.
See How C.A.T.’s Targeted Therapy Changed Matteo’s Life
The testimony documents Matteo’s targeted therapy and showcases how it is possible to dramatically reduce autism symptoms by repairing impaired metabolic processes.
What Is the Best Liquid Multivitamin for Autism Recovery?
Treatment with nutritional supplements should address the impaired metabolic processes revealed through advanced laboratory tests. Therefore, there is no “one nutritional supplement” suitable for autism or a “Best Liquid Multivitamin for Autism.”
Since certain nutrients are co-factors in the synthesis of neurotransmitters, only a professional understanding of the metabolic problems detected in the laboratory tests can determine the kind of nutrients, dosage, and treatment duration your child will require.
B vitamins are considered the pinnacle of a healthy nervous system and metabolism. Minerals like zinc, magnesium, selenium, and others can be highly beneficial as well. But these aren’t the only supplements from which autistic children can benefit. Effective vitamin therapy for autism therapy should include examining the use of the following essential nutrients:
- Vitamin B-6 and Magnesium
- Methyl Vitamin B-12
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 and Fish Oil
Consuming supplements in liquid form offers better absorption than capsules and tablets. Those who struggle with swallowing pills or capsules may prefer liquid supplements as well.
However, before exploring supplementation or looking for “the best liquid multivitamin for autism,” it’s important to understand the role of each nutrient. Planning and patience are integral to finding (and implementing) the best interventions. Taking the time to find the right supplement for your child can bring immense improvements.
With that, let’s offer an in-depth take on which supplements are usually most beneficial for children diagnosed with ASD.
Which Vitamins Are Most Beneficial for Children with Autism?
Young people with autism often resort to supplementation. However, parents and their children should always consult a healthcare professional before starting a new supplement regimen.
Consider the following supplements to encourage improvements in your child with ASD:
Vitamin B6 and Magnesium
Studies reveal that children with ASD may experience communication, social, and behavioral improvements as a result of supplementation. Vitamin B-6 and magnesium are often supplemented together, as magnesium has been found to counteract the upset stomach some people who take B-6 experience.
Research shows that children with ASD may be deficient in magnesium. Magnesium—responsible for brain function and the body’s muscles—is present in foods such as seeds, nuts, leafy greens, and whole grains.
A larger study pinpointed an increase in positive behavior. Healthcare professionals and parents should nonetheless monitor both nutrients in children with autism.
Vitamin B-6 is broken down by an enzyme known as PLP. This enzyme is key to dopamine production, which is linked to the brain’s reward centers.
Vitamin B-12 helps to regulate the neurotransmitters. A family of vitamins, B-12 is vital to a healthy nervous system. Methyl B-12, in particular can serve specific neural pathways, helping to improve certain processes in the brain. Methyl B-12 also interacts with folate to produce cells in the body.
One of the most effective supplements for speech in patients with autism, vitamin B-12 can strengthen more than 60 biological processes. Found in most multivitamins, it can also be taken as a supplement.
Notably, children experiencing developmental delays—among them those with ASD—have a more difficult time processing methyl B-12. Methyl B-12 may be delivered as an injection in order to mitigate impairments in the brain’s pathways.
One randomized study from 2016 researched the effects of methyl B-12 supplementation in children with autism. Researchers found that children who received the supplement showed clinical improvements across a number of categories, including social responsiveness.
Blood laboratory results pinpointed metabolic improvements in children who took methyl B-12 supplements. Understanding the risks and benefits involved in supplementation should be an important factor in your family’s decision-making.
Vitamin C plays a key role in the body—supporting the production of neurotransmitters and protecting the body from harmful free radicals. Antioxidants like vitamin C can also strengthen the immune system by lowering stress levels in those with autism. (People with ASD typically experience more stress than those not on the spectrum.)
Vitamin C is paramount to a healthy immune system. Yet many researchers believe children with autism experience a vitamin C deficiency.
One report found that sufficient quantities of vitamin C can help to improve sleep and gastrointestinal issues in children with ASD.
Another study revealed that children with autism spectrum disorder who took consistent vitamin C supplements experienced a substantial decrease in behavioral ASD symptoms such as pacing, rocking, and flapping their hands.
People’s tolerance for vitamin C may vary. This means parents should continue to monitor their children for side effects like upset stomach or diarrhea if they choose to supplement with this important nutrient.
Researchers believe many children with autism experience deficits in nutrients like vitamin D.
One study revealed that after taking a daily vitamin D supplement, children with ASD exhibited a decrease in behaviors such as social challenges, communication difficulties, and repetitive movements. The findings confirmed that taking a physician-recommended dosage of a vitamin D supplement can help people with autism alleviate core symptoms.
Egg yolks, oily fish, fortified grains, and even exposure to the sun can help to increase the body’s vitamin D levels. Also of note is the fact that every cell in the brain contains vitamin D receptors. These receptors help to oversee gene expression or the way a person’s genetic material is used.
This, however, isn’t the only role of vitamin D. The crucial nutrient safeguards brain tissue as well, stimulating the production of chemicals that ward off toxicity. These chemicals are known as neurotrophins and help to induce the function of the brain’s neurons. In simple terms, vitamin D can help form new connections in the nervous system, all while strengthening existing ones.
Scientific research also confirms that vitamin D can decrease oxidative stress. Since oxidative stress is a hallmark of autism spectrum disorder—often resulting in early cell death—vitamin D supplementation is notably advantageous.
It shouldn’t be surprising that research indicates vitamin D can lessen symptoms of ASD. One study from the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines outlined that vitamin D3 supplementation in youth with autism sparked improvements in a number of symptoms. (Saad, et al., 2018)
Many researchers indicate that after four months of supplementation, children experienced significant improvements in the core manifestations of ASD. These improvements occurred in symptoms such as hyperactivity, irritability, social isolation, and inappropriate speech.
“Children who received vitamin D supplementation experienced increased cognitive awareness, social awareness, and social cognition compared to those who only received the placebo,” Tovey added. “Vitamin D supplementation significantly decreased repetitive hand movements, random noises, jumping, and restricted interests.” (Tovey, 2018). This nutrient should not be overlooked in your child’s biomedical treatment intervention.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Fish Oil
Though they cannot be produced in the human body and must be ingested through diet or supplementation, essential fatty acids (EFAs) are exactly what their name implies: essential. They oversee brain and nerve development, metabolism, oxygenation, communication, and immune health.
Children with autism need Omega-3 EFAs like DHA and EPA even more than their neurotypical counterparts. This is because these essential fatty acids help to fight inflammation and promote brain health. In addition, a number of studies reveal that EFA supplements can improve mood and attention. They are also vital to brain and eye development.
So, is supplementation the answer for children diagnosed with ASD? Fish oil is a common intervention, as children with autism are known to have lower levels of Omega-3 EFAs in the body. Fish oil supplements can be purchased over the counter and are best taken after consulting a doctor.
Fish oil supplementation—and Omega-3 supplementation in general—is still one of the most common nutritional interventions among children with autism.
Probiotics play a critical role in a healthy digestive system. A high-functioning digestive system contains “good” bacteria, or flora, that elevate digestive function.
These healthy bacteria are known as probiotics and help to keep the bad kind of bacteria at bay. They grow in the gut and essentially colonize the gastrointestinal system, bringing everything into balance. An imbalance of the gut’s health can lead to mood problems, attention challenges, increased stress, and sleep disturbances.
These symptoms are common in children with ASD. Additionally, many young people with autism experience gastrointestinal issues ranging from stomach pain and constipation to diarrhea. These symptoms may occur because of inflammation, the presence of abnormal microbes in the digestive tract, or a combination of these and other factors.
Here’s how it works: Gut bacteria found in the GI tract may serve as a messenger of sorts, sending signals to and from various parts of the body (including the brain). Present naturally in yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, uncultured buttermilk, fresh pickles, and probiotic supplements can bring comprehensive benefits.
Approximately 50% of children with autism spectrum disorder experience sleep difficulties. A number of reasons may contribute to this, from anxiety to an irregular circadian rhythm. Additional causes include hyperactivity and side effects from medication.
Melatonin supplementation can help counteract sleep challenges in children with ASD. Produced naturally in the body, melatonin oversees a person’s sleep/wake cycles. It is found in some fish and eggs, as well as in bananas, nuts, and seeds.
When children are picky eaters and struggle to produce melatonin naturally, melatonin supplementation becomes even more essential. Some researchers have identified a link between low melatonin levels in children with autism and the severity of ASD symptoms. Research exploring the power of melatonin supplementation has shown promising results, with a number of studies highlighting improvements in sleep duration and overall behaviors.
Just like with any supplement, parents should consult their child’s healthcare provider to discuss dosage information before starting a new supplement regimen. Typically, melatonin is available over the counter and is most often taken as a sublingual—meaning a pill that dissolves under the tongue. A healthcare provider can walk you through your options and help to curate a solution based on your child’s exact needs.
Biomedical Treatment for Autism
Young people with ASD have historically been prescribed supplements to improve symptoms involving sleep, daily behaviors, the digestive system, and nutritional deficiencies.
According to the CDC, “Many biomedical interventions call for changes in diet. Such changes include removing certain types of foods from a child’s diet and using vitamin or mineral supplements.” Experts emphasize that treatments effective for one patient may not be quite as beneficial for another—yet generally speaking, biomedical interventions like dietary changes and supplementation are well worth considering.
In this same vein, researchers Allison E. Golnik and Marjorie Ireland revealed that vitamin and mineral supplementation proved among the “most widely recommended medical interventions for autism,” with 49% of physicians speaking in favor of the intervention for children with ASD. (Adams, 2018)
In addition to benefits involving sleep and digestion, improvements in eye contact, depression, and overall behavior have been identified in ASD patients who take cod liver oil for autism recovery, which contains high quantities of vitamins D and A.
It’s worth noting that looking beyond autism, most Western diets lack essential vitamins and nutrients such as B vitamins (specifically vitamins B6, B12, and folate), iron, antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, and minerals, including calcium and magnesium.
Biomedical treatment may well be the solution parents of children with ASD have been waiting for. The truth is that young people must consume a balanced diet—and closely monitor their vitamin and mineral intake—to achieve the growth and brain development they need to thrive.
Alleviate Symptoms of Autism with the C.A.T. Center Today
Do you have questions or comments about naturally alleviating symptoms of autism in children? Rest assured that the first step to change starts now. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or for more information on the benefits of supplementation.
The information in this article is exclusively for general knowledge purposes. It should not be used for personal treatment or as a substitute for medical advice. There is no representation or warranty, explicit or implied, involving the accuracy, validity, or completeness of the content in this piece. Nutritional supplementation should only occur under the supervision of a licensed professional (and in accordance with laboratory test results).
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