How to Use B Vitamins to Reduce Autism Symptoms Naturally
DISCLAIMER: CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR BEFORE DECIDING ON A TREATMENT PLAN FOR ANY DISEASE OR INJURY.
Once classified as a single disorder, autism is now viewed along a spectrum. Children on the autism spectrum may exhibit problems with communicating (both verbally and nonverbally), understanding other people’s communication, and may not approach developmental milestones as quickly or as soon as other children. They may also be “socially awkward” to varying degrees (having trouble with concentration, maintaining eye contact, learning and following socially acceptable behaviors, etc).
Unfortunately, the onset of autism in children is frequently associated with vaccination. Though many different vaccines have been linked to the development of autism spectrum disorders (ASD), there are a few specific vaccinations that show a notable connection. Specifically, connections have been made between children who received the MMR vaccine or a chickenpox vaccine and subsequently developed symptoms of ASD. There is significant controversy around whether or not vaccines cause autism, so for this section, I’ll concentrate only on how vitamin deficiencies may ultimately lead to the development of autism (and how nutritional therapy may help reverse or diminish symptoms) rather than diving into the politics of autism and vaccines.
Keep in mind that some children with autism may have Candida overgrowth, SIBO, or a heavy parasite load as well, all of which can lead to decreased absorption of nutrients. Therefore, in order to obtain the maximum benefit, parents must consider this disorder from a few different perspectives (eliminate the infection that may be present while also supplementing with nutrients like those listed below and following a healthy diet whenever possible) in order to see true changes and benefit.
The B-complex vitamins are closely connected to the development and treatment of ASD. Below is a brief description of the role of the 8 different B vitamins in ASD:
Children who are deficient in thiamine are significantly more likely to develop symptoms of ASD or even to be diagnosed formally with an autism spectrum disorder. Deficiency of vitamin B1 may happen in infants and children whose mothers are or were deficient in thiamine in particular and who now eat a diet low in thiamine and other nutrients. Studies have shown that, in animal studies, children of mothers who consume low levels of thiamine and who exclusively breastfeed may be more likely to have memory problems. In humans and in animals both, infants who consumed breastmilk or formula with little thiamine were more likely to develop aggressive behaviors and memory or learning deficits.
Autism and mitochondrial dysfunction have previously been linked, and since thiamine is an essential part of ATP and acetylcholine production (and therefore proper mitochondrial function), deficient levels of this vitamin may play a role in ASD in this way as well. Supplementation with thiamine can help improve mitochondrial function and restore adequate levels of vitamin B1 in order for the body to function normally and healthfully.
Deficiency of thiamine can also lead to damage to the cerebellum, similar to the cerebellar swelling seen in many autistic children. Macrocephaly is also frequently seen in children with ASD, and is another symptom of thiamine deficiency. Some studies have shown that children along the autism spectrum who have been treated with thiamine show improvements in various symptoms, however these studies appear to be limited.
Vitamin B3, when given as niacinamide (a non-flushing form of niacin), can help increase serotonin and melatonin levels in children with autism, and can thus improve sleep quality and calm feelings. Some experts have noted that niacinamide can reduce repetitive behaviors seen in children with autism.
Vitamin B6 (particularly in combination with magnesium) is noted as being a particularly valuable supplement for infants, children, and even teenagers or adults diagnosed with ASD. The dosage of these two nutrients is generally given at 500mg of vitamin B6 daily with 250mg of magnesium. Experts say that supplementing with vitamin B6 and magnesium may not cure autism completely, but in some cases supplementation can have highly significant, positive results on ASD symptoms.
According to some people, including Dr. Abram Hoffer (an orthomolecular medicine expert), autism could potentially be categorized in some cases as a nutritional dependency disease (rather than a nutritional deficiency disease). In nutritional dependency diseases, a person’s physiology is such that they need to consume higher than normal amounts of a nutrient. Thus, if a child has an unusually high need for a particular nutrient, such as vitamin B6, but they don’t obtain the levels they need, they may develop symptoms of a deficiency in that vitamin (even if their consumption meets the average person’s daily requirement for that vitamin, they aren’t getting enough for their bodies).
Vitamin B6 supplementation (with magnesium) is shown to be beneficial in approximately 30% of children with autism. In these children, supplementation results in higher levels of calmness and comfort, improved problem-solving abilities and ability to communicate this problem-solving with others, and improved access of the child’s own internal resources.
- Vitamin B9 (Folate/Folic Acid) and Vitamin B12
Though two different vitamins, I’ll discuss both vitamin B9 and vitamin B12 in the same section since these two vitamins tend to go together well when it comes to treating or preventing autism spectrum disorders.
Vitamin B12 is notably one of the most significant B vitamins when it comes to treating autism. Additionally, since mercury (a component of many vaccines in the form of thimerosal) can inhibit the body’s ability to produce its own vitamin B12 naturally and absorb the vitamin in the gastrointestinal tract, most children with autism caused by vaccination are also highly likely to be deficient in this nutrient. Many parents and physicians observe a positive change in the symptoms of children with autism who receive injections of vitamin B12 and/or increase oral/dietary intake of this vitamin. Specifically, vitamin B12 supplementation may help improve speech and understanding, executive function, sleep quality, behaviors, mood, and energy levels in autistic children.
Vitamin B9 is given to autistic children in its active forms, folinic acid or methyl folate, in order to increase absorption of this nutrient and ensure that it can be used in the body (children with autism and other chronic health issues may lack the enzymes necessary to convert folate/folic acid into a usable form, so administering this vitamin in an already active form is ideal). This vitamin works together with vitamin B12, so many parents and physicians choose to administer these two vitamins together to obtain the best results. Vitamin B9 is necessary for neurotransmitter synthesis, energy production and transport, cellular communication, and more, indicating its role in energy levels, appropriate behavior, positive mood, and general social and communicative abilities.
- The Other B-Complex Vitamins
Vitamins B2 and B5 may also prove useful in the orthomolecular treatment of autism spectrum disorders. Vitamin B2 is necessary for the conversion of vitamins B6 and B9 into their active forms, so a deficiency in this vitamin may lead to a subsequent deficiency in these vitamins as well. In addition, vitamin B2 can improve mitochondrial function, ATP production, and carbohydrate metabolism, all important factors in improving energy levels and mood. Vitamin B2 also helps reduce the abnormal levels of organic acids in the urine of autistic children. Vitamin B5 improves energy production and the function of the adrenal glands. It has been given at a dose of 25mg per day with positive results in children with autism.
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 Green, John, M.D. (2022). Supplement Suggestions. Retrieved February 9, 2022 from: https://childrenandautism.com/supplement-suggestions/
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