October 20, 2018

Low vitamin D levels during pregnancy may be linked to an increased risk of ADHD

According to a study published in The Australia & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, pregnant women who took vitamin D during pregnancy had children with fewer symptoms of ADHD. Researchers demonstrated for every 10 nmol/L increase in umbilical blood vitamin D levels, there was an 11% reduced risk of ADHD symptoms.

In this study 1,233 children from were monitored. Researchers measured vitamin D levels in umbilical blood and mothers completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) when their child was 2½ years of age. The CBCL questionnaire can be used to identify early symptoms of ADHD, but an ADHD diagnosis cannot be made at that age.

The research team demonstrated that there was a clear association in mothers who had taken vitamin D and had umbilical blood levels greater than 25 nmol/L had children with lower ADHD scores. This was after they had corrected for other factors, such as the mother’s age, smoking, alcohol, obesity, education, number of children, psychiatric disease in the parents, child’s sex, age and seasonal variation.

There has not been a previous link between vitamin D and ADHD or that this could be identified at such an early age. However, we cannot conclude or prevent which children will develop ADHD later in life. In addition, this study confirm that vitamin D will protect against ADHD but previous studies have demonstrated the role of vitamin D in the early brain development.

There was interesting study in February 2015 published in FASEB Journal which described that serotonin may be a possible link demonstrating how vitamin D and fish oil support cognitive function. Many brain based conditions, such as ADHD commonly has low brain serotonin. This study explains how serotonin is a critical modulator of executive function, impulse control, sensory gating, and pro-social behavior.

Researchers link serotonin production and function to vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which suggests one way that these important nutrients help the brain function and affect our behavior.

The bottom line is it we need optimize every patient’s nutrients status based upon testing and support accordingly and we cannot forgot supporting these individuals with essential fatty acids. These are major deficiencies in the US and assessing and supporting optimal vitamin D and essential fatty acids levels would optimize brain serotonin concentrations and function. As a result, we can possibly prevent and alleviate some of the symptoms associated with these disorders without the harmful side effects.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: M. H. Mossin,  J. B. Aaby, C. Dalgard, S. Lykkedegn, H. T. Christesen, N. Bilenberg. Inverse associations between cord vitamin D and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms: A child cohort study. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 2016; DOI: 10.1177/0004867416670013

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