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Nutritional Supplements for Autism

Learn about nutritional supplements for autism from pediatrician and child development expert Asma J. Sadiq, M.D. in this Howcast video.


Children with diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder should be evaluated for nutritional deficiencies. They tend to be very picky with food and have particular preferences with varied appetite. Data also shows that children with the autism spectrum tend to have a lot more of vitamin D deficiency, vitamin-D3. This is really a pandemic all over, but particularly with the children with the autism spectrum, vitamin-D levels tend to be low. Evaluating them and providing the adequate nutritional support is important. You can have them be in the sun, which is important but we're not in the right latitude in the northern countries. So giving supplements of D3 is important and you can work with your pediatrician.

Other nutrients that are found to be low that would beneficial in kids with the autism spectrum include magnesium, zinc. There's been a lot of research on B6 and B12. Studies done by Dr. Rimland using B6 and magnesium have been positive and beneficial in children with the autism spectrum. There have been mixed studies, but more positive than negative. We are now understanding when we look at the biochemistry, how all these nutrients, whether zinc or magnesium help in the pathways at multiple levels to make the neurotransmitters work properly or the methylation process that is important. Working with adequate nutrition, if there are deficiencies, it's very important to adjust supporting the system. Of course, nutrition should be adequate in all children, having a balanced diet with adequate protein, carbohydrates, the good fats, good carbs is important.

Plant based, healthy, preferably organic, wholesome, whole-food diet is good for all children but particularly for kids who have special needs. Looking for food allergies is important, because if there is inflammation of the gut, of the G.I. system, there can be difficulty, also in absorption. There's an imbalance of good and bad bacteria, which is called Dysbiosis, which also affects absorption. Making sure you get the right nutrients in and the right amount is very important. If you can get blood testing done for some amounts or some of these nutrients, it's important. Otherwise, having a good string multivitamin, making sure that the child is having a healthy diet, has good flora in the intestine, has good bacteria, having regular bowel habits, sleeping well, all these things make a difference. Something like magnesium for example helps with sleep as well as bowel movements, because it increases the tone. It is also very calming.

Healthy lifestyle, healthy food and nutritional support is very important. Doing it through food is ideal, but often you need to give supplements, and there are a variety of supplements that are particularly important for children with the autism spectrum. One that I need to mention is Omega-3 fish oil. There is a lot of data on Omega-3 fish oil, which helps with IQ, fine motor development, speech language development, and is actually a very important part of the child's brain development. They're adding it to formula, and it is actually taken from the mother, while the child is a fetus. So supporting the mothers prenatally with the right nutrients and vitamins is also very important.

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