The body of the paper consisted of a review of the 35 papers published to date that deal directly with autism and vitamin D. Here were their areas of interest and the studies they reviewed.
On vitamin D blood levels
Four studies have looked at vitamin D levels in autistic children or their mothers and all have found low levels (<30 ng/ml) in autistic children. One found no difference in vitamin D levels between autistic children and boys with acute inflammation (a curious control), while the other three found differences, some significant and some not. One study found Somali mothers with autistic children had average vitamin D levels of 6.7 ng/ml, about 30% lower than Somali mothers without autistic children.
On vitamin D intake
The authors examined about a dozen papers that looked at vitamin D intake in autistic children, all finding that most autistic children do not meet vitamin D intake requirements for their age. On a side note, the authors also mention that magnesium has a crucial role in brain development and function. As readers know, magnesium deficiencies are the rule, not the exception in most Americans.
On brain development and function
The authors reviewed the numerous ways vitamin D is involved in brain development and function, including:
Nerve migration and growth
Neurotransmission, both excitatory and inhibitory
Preventing excessive cell proliferation
Orchestrating signaling pathways in the brain
Nerve growth factor expression
Regulation of inflammatory cytokines
Intra-neuronal calcium signaling
Control of the expression of genes involved in brain structure and metabolism
Regulation of glutathione, the master antioxidant and heavy metal remover
Protection from glutamate toxicity
On autism, vitamin D and seizures
I was surprised at the number of studies showing the connection between vitamin D, seizures and autism. Up to 30% of children with autism have seizures, and it may be as easy as giving a vitamin D supplement to reduce seizures.
A recent study showed in a statistically significant finding that in States where exclusive breastfeeding is the highest, autism incidence is also the highest. Remember, unless the mother takes 5,000 IU/day and has a vitamin D level > 40 ng/ml, breast milk contains little vitamin D.
Yes, as I have been saying since 2006, there is a need for “urgent research in the field.”
RCT: Vitamin D, calcium, and vitamin K's affect on activity in postmenopausal women April 30, 2012 -- John Cannell, MD Dr Cannell reviews a RCT which shows intriguing results when comparing supplementation with vitamin D and calcium vs vitamin D, calcium and K1 or K2. See which arm of the experiment increased activity! Continue reading →(membership required)
Vitamin D supplementation is crucial for patients taking Forteo April 24, 2012 -- John Cannell, MD Dr Cannell reviews a randomized controlled trial conducted by Dr Cosman and colleagues looking into teriparatide (Forteo), used to treat severe osteoporosis, and its effect on vitamin D. Continue reading →(membership required)
How do we measure sun exposure? April 27, 2012 -- Brant Cebulla Brant Cebulla discusses how we measure sun exposure and how “experts” decide on recommendations regarding sun exposure. Continue reading →(membership required)
Does it matter how often researchers test serum vitamin D? May 1, 2012 -- Dr William Grant Dr William Grant reviews research in which increased follow-up times for testing serum vitamin D cause results to show little to no effect. Continue reading →(open access)
Professor Harry Steenbock's irradiation patent April 24, 2012 -- John Cannell, MD Professor Steenbock “invented” the irradiation of naturally occurring things such as milk and alfalfa. Dr Cannell discusses how the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals stripped Steenbock of his patent in 1943. Continue reading →(open access)
RCT: Vitamin D-fortified yogurt drink shows benefits for patients with type 2 diabetes April 28, 2012 -- John Cannell, MD Dr Cannell reviews a study in which researchers at the University of Medical Sciences in Tehran conducted a RCT comparing a yogurt drink fortified with vitamin D and calcium to a placebo yogurt drink. The results are astounding. Continue reading →(membership required)