October 21, 2018

New study demonstrates sulforphane’s influence on genetics and prostate cancer

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, researchers identified a pathway that sulforaphane may influence long, non-coding RNAs.

This research provides evidence on how these RNAs may play a critical role in triggering the proliferation of cells to become malignant and metastasize. Previous research has demonstrated that long, non-coding RNAs have an essential role in cellular development and an epigenetic influence by controlling what genes are expressed. Researchers believe that when these are dysregulated, they can contribute to chronic disease and cancer.

In this study, researchers demonstrated that one long, non-coding RNA was decreased four-fold with the treatment of sulforaphane and is upregulated in prostate cancer. As a result, treatment with sulforaphane could normalize these long, non-coding RNA levels which not only may help with cancer prevention but also slow cancer progression.

Prostate cancer is the 2nd most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States in men.
Earlier studies have demonstrated that cruciferous vegetables with a high concentration of sulforaphane help reduce the effects of environmental carcinogens. Sulforaphane targets several biological pathways that modulate Phase I enzymes and elevate Phase II enzymes that are present in all cells.

Once inside the cells, sulforaphane sends a signal to individual cellular enzymes that turns on the natural cellular defenses in these cells. Sulforaphane is capable of restoring the gene’s activity towards normal cell progression. Cells are naturally equipped with their own internal defense system. Much of the cell’s ability to defend itself is due to two main factors: sulforaphane’s ability to produce the antioxidants that quench harmful free radicals and detoxification enzymes to break down toxins.

This study reinforces the importance of diet and nutrition and their epigenetic influence on telling the DNA how to function by turning on and off genes. Other nutrients such as essential fatty acids, curcumin, EGCg, and vitamin D play an important role as well.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

References
Source: Laura M. Beaver, Rachael Kuintzle, Alex Buchanan, Michelle W. Wiley, Sarah T. Glasser, Carmen P. Wong, Gavin S. Johnson, Jeff H. Chang, Christiane V. Löhr, David E. Williams, Roderick H. Dashwood, David A. Hendrix, Emily Ho. Long noncoding RNAs and sulforaphane: a target for chemoprevention and suppression of prostate cancer. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 2017; 42: 72 DOI: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2017.01.001

New study demonstrates b vitamins may reduce the negative effects from air pollution

According to a new study published in PNAS, researchers at Columbia University demonstrated that B vitamins may play an essential role in reducing the impact of air pollution. This is the first study to show possible interventions that prevent or minimize the adverse effects of air pollution.

This study shows how preventive measures with B vitamins can influence specific pathways that may mitigate the adverse effects of air pollution.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 92% of the population lives in places where air quality levels exceed the limits of 10 μg/m3. Air pollutants can deposit in the respiratory tract which can result in lung and systemic inflammation. Although there has been substantial lowering of air pollution through large-scale emissions control policies over the past few decades, adverse health effects are still common.

The negative health effects of air pollution and its role in one’s health may contribute to many complex issues.
In this study, researchers gave participants a placebo or B-vitamin supplement containing folate, pyroxidine, and cobalamin. Plasma B vitamin levels were assessed before and after which demonstrated that B-vitamin supplementation prevented changes in the genes involved in mitochondrial oxidative energy from air pollution.

The truth is, we all live in an ever-increasing toxic environment. More than 80,000 chemicals are introduced into the world each year and our indoor environment is likely more toxic than our outdoor environment.

We are exposed to pesticides, herbicides, chemical solvents, xenobiotics, and industrial chemicals of all kinds that we get exposed through the food we eat, the water we drink and the air we breathe. These toxins accumulate in our body and contribute to the total toxic load that can cause a variety of health problems. Unfortunately, this exposure to chemicals are unavoidable in the environment,
What can we do? Support our detoxification pathways. There is significant evidence on the importance of diet and nutritional supplementation in maintaining detoxification pathways. This may consist of eating organic food, drinking clean, pure water, and supplementing with nutrients like B-vitmains, N-acetyl-cysteine and calcium d-glucurate or participating in a formal detoxification program.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: B vitamins attenuate the epigenetic effects of ambient fine particles in a pilot human intervention trial, Jia Zhong et al., PNAS, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1618545114, published online 13 March 2017

New study demonstrates blueberry supplementation improves brain function

Blueberries are rich in flavonoids, which contain powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. High intake of flavonoids mitigate age-related cognitive decline, however, human studies are limited. Cognitive function declines with age as the body’s cells are more susceptible to damage and death. In addition, the body produces less energy due to slower metabolism and as a result, cells are less able to produce antioxidants and soak up free radicals.

According to a new study published last week, researchers demonstrated that drinking concentrated blueberry juice improves brain function in older individuals.

This study included 26 healthy individuals ranging from 65 to 77 years of age. Twelve people drank a concentrated blueberry juice every day providing 387 mg of anthocyanidins for 12 weeks that demonstrated improvements in cognitive function, working memory, blood perfusion to the brain as well as activation of the brain while performing cognitive tests.

Before and after the twelve week period, all 26 individuals took a variety of cognitive tests while an MRI scanner monitored their brain function and resting brain blood flow. As a result, those who consumed the blueberry supplement showed significant increases in brain activity in brain areas related to the tests.

There is evidence that simple prevention strategies can reduce the risk of dementia and preserved cognition with a diet rich in plant-based foods. Flavonoids are an essential component contributing to these effects.

Blueberry consumption also plays a role in the reduction of amyloid β protein (Aβ) aggregation, which can disrupt mitochondrial function and lead to neuronal cell death. Pathological levels of amyloid plaques are found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.1,2 Also, the cognitive improvement provided by blueberries is associated to higher brain antioxidant production of glutathione.3

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

References
Soluble protein oligomers as emerging toxins in Alzheimer’s and other amyloid diseases. Ferreira ST, Vieira MN, De Felice FG. IUBMB Life. 2007 Apr-May;59(4-5):332-45.

Synaptic failure and adenosine triphosphate imbalance induced by amyloid-β aggregates are prevented by blueberry-enriched polyphenols extract. Fuentealba J, Dibarrart AJ, Fuentes-Fuentes MC, Saez-Orellana F, Quiñones K, Guzmán L, Perez C, Becerra J, Aguayo LG. J Neurosci Res. 2011 Sep;89(9):1499-508. doi: 10.1002/jnr.22679. Epub 2011 Jun 6

Effect of a polyphenol-rich wild blueberry extract on cognitive performance of mice, brain antioxidant markers and acetylcholinesterase activity. Papandreou MA, Dimakopoulou A, Linardaki ZI, Cordopatis P, Klimis-Zacas D, Margarity M, Lamari FN. Behav Brain Res. 2009 Mar 17;198(2):352-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2008.11.013. Epub 2008 Nov 17.

Source: Joanna L. Bowtell, Zainie Aboo-Bakkar, Myra Conway, Anna-Lynne R. Adlam, Jonathan Fulford. Enhanced task related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 2017; DOI: 10.1139/apnm-2016-0550

New study identifies inflammatory trigger associated with inflammatory and autoimmune conditions

According to a new study published last month, researchers identified an inflammatory molecule associated with inflammatory disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and psoriasis.

This helps identify therapeutic targets for supporting and treating these types of conditions.
Researchers identified that dying cells release IL-1, an inflammatory signal, which is the cause of the inflammation and targeting this molecule may be an effective way of treating inflammatory diseases.

These findings suggest that targeting IL-1 could suppress inflammation associated with inflammatory diseases, multiple sclerosis, atherosclerosis, liver disease, pancreatitis, psoriasis, IBD, and infectious diseases.

Nutrients to consider

There are only a few natural products that have demonstrated the wide range of protective properties as curcumin. It provides anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant effects that modulate cytokine and chemokine production and as a result balances the Th-1 and Th-2 T helper cells further downstream.

Glucosamine is a derivative of glucose which can be converted in cells to N-acetyl glucosamine (GlcNAc). This novel form of glucosamine has demonstrated that it acts as an immunosuppressive agent through a variety of mechanisms. Glucosamine can suppress the activation of T-cells and dendritic cells which are two crucial cells involved in the immune response. In one study when GlcNAc was used in children with chronic inflammatory bowel disease, biopsies revealed histological improvements as well as restoration of the epithelial barrier (i.e., repairing leaky-gut).

ParActin is a branded botanical that have very unique immune modulating properties. It is a standardized special extract of Andrographis, which activates the peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) nuclear receptor. When activated, it not only stimulates the expression of genes involved in energy homeostasis, but also key regulators of the immune and inflammatory responses such as downstream inflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukin-1β.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Conos, S.et al. Active MLKL triggers the NLRP3 inflammasome in a cell-intrinsic manner. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, Feb. 7, 2017; volume 114 no. 6. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1613305114

Low vitamin D levels increase risk of relapse in patients with ulcerative colitis

According to a new study published this month in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, researchers discovered lower levels of vitamin D were associated with an increased risk of a relapse in patients with Ulcerative Colitis (UC).

It is well known the role of vitamin D and autoimmunity and disease severity, however, it has been unknown if it contributes to disease relapses and unclear if the flare-up was lowering vitamin D levels or if low vitamin D levels were causing the flare-up.

In this study researchers investigated vitamin D levels when the disease was in remission and then followed patients moving forward to further determine this connection. The research team measured vitamin D levels of 70 patients with UC in remission as well as levels of inflammation. They then followed these patients for 1 year and compared the data from those that remained in remission and those who experienced relapses. As a result, those who had higher vitamin D levels greater than 35 ng/ml while in remission had a decreased risk of a relapse.

Autoimmune disorders occur when the body’s immune system is tricked into thinking that self is foreign and starts attacking itself. As a result, the immune system makes antibodies that attack various tissues in the body.

Vitamin D helps autoimmune disorders by regulating T cells in the immune system. This makes the body more tolerant of itself and less likely to mount autoimmune responses. The severity of Crohn’s disease is linked to the lowest vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to many autoimmune diseases, including type 1 diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease, with studies finding a higher prevalence of these diseases in those who are deficient in vitamin D

There is plenty of evidence regarding the benefit of vitamin D supplementation on a multitude of health benefits not just with autoimmune disorders. Given the fact that supplementation of vitamin D in its natural form is harmless and inexpensive, many more people should get their vitamin D levels checked regularly and supplement according.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: John Gubatan, Shuji Mitsuhashi, Talia Zenlea, Laura Rosenberg, Simon Robson, Alan C. Moss. Low Serum Vitamin D During Remission Increases Risk of Clinical Relapse in Patients With Ulcerative Colitis. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 2017; 15 (2): 240 DOI: 10.1016/j.cgh.2016.05.035

New study identifies dramatic shifting of the microbiome in inflammatory bowel disease

Inflammatory bowel disease is an autoimmune condition where in most cases there are multiple triggers chronically stimulating the immune system over a long period of time in multiple ways and the immune system gets into overloaded, overwhelmed state and loses its ability to function leading to chronic inflammation causes symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, and other debilitating symptoms and anemia.

According to a study published four days ago in Nature Microbiology, individuals with IBD commonly have dramatic shifts in gut microbiome compared to that of healthy people.

Although it is well known that there are differences in the gut microbiome in IBD patients, this is one of the largest studies to follow the microbiome over a period of time. The most significant difference researchers saw was how the microbiome shifted, describing it as a “volatile dysbiosis.” These patients have a much less stable microbiome than healthy individuals.

Researchers have known that there are some differences in the microbiomes of patients with IBD patients compared to healthy individuals such as fewer beneficial microbes and many times high amounts of Enterobacteriaceae and E. coli.

It is important to know what bacteria are present and how these bacteria shift as the patient’s symptoms exacerbate or improve.

In this study, researchers followed 137 individuals for 2 years, which included patients with ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and healthy individuals. They collected stool samples from patients every 3 months for up to 2 years and monitored patients’ symptoms.

The research team found that in healthy people, the gut microbiome was much more stable than those with IBD. The patients with IBD had dramatic shifts in their microbiomes with some bacteria disappearing almost completely at times. In addition, over 50% of their microbiome was displaced by other microbes in just a few months. The biggest swings were seen in patients with ileal Crohn’s disease who had had part of their intestine removed to improve their symptoms.

Also, researchers noted that changes in medication to treat IBD affected the microbiome. Individuals who had taken steroids for part of treatment had more fluctuations in their microbiome and those who were experiencing a flare-up in their symptoms were more likely to have dramatic fluctuations in their microbiome.

These results further support the integrative functional medicine approach to assess the microbiome regularly in these patients so one can take an individualized approach to manipulate the microbiome and keep these IBD patients in remission, especially if medications like corticosteroids can be shift the microbiome leading to an exacerbation of the disease.

I shared a study published last month in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology in which researchers demonstrated that a specific carbohydrate diet (SCD) can bring patients with active inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) into remission.

In addition, one must look into the other potential environmental triggers that can cause inflammation such as, food sensitivities, toxins, and molds. Also, the nutrient status of the person. This can be antioxidant status, vitamins, essential fatty acids, vitamin D, etc. Finally, there are toxins that can be affect the status of the immune system. These are heavy metals, xenobiotics, as well as the total toxic burden in the body.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Jonas Halfvarson, Colin J. Brislawn, Regina Lamendella, Yoshiki Vázquez-Baeza, William A. Walters, Lisa M. Bramer, Mauro D’Amato, Ferdinando Bonfiglio, Daniel McDonald, Antonio Gonzalez, Erin E. McClure, Mitchell F. Dunklebarger, Rob Knight, Janet K. Jansson. Dynamics of the human gut microbiome in inflammatory bowel disease. Nature Microbiology, 2017; 2: 17004 DOI: 10.1038/nmicrobiol.2017.4

Study demonstrates mental stimulating activities protect against cognitive impairment

Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) are a group of conditions that cause mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or dementia. These conditions affect one’s ability to function socially, personally, and professionally. It’s important to recognize that Alzheimer’s disease begins long before symptoms start just like many other conditions. There is evidence that simple prevention strategies can reduce the risk of ADRD by as much as 50%.

According to a new study published January 30th in JAMA Neurology, Mayo Clinic researchers demonstrated that mentally stimulating activities reduce the risk of new-onset mild cognitive impairment even when performed later in life.

This study found that healthy individuals age 70 or older who were active on a computer, played games, and were involved in craft and social activities had a reduced risk of developing mild cognitive impairment (MCI).

The study included 1,929 cognitively normal participants or an average duration of 4 years. As a result, the researchers discovered that the risk of new-onset mild cognitive impairment decreased by 30% with computer use, 28% with crafts, 23% with social activities, and 22% with playing games.

Furthermore, individuals who performed these activities at least once to twice week had less cognitive decline than those doing the same activities only two to three times a month.

I remember when I was doing a lot of continuing education in postgraduate functional neurology we always talked about “what you fire, you wire”. It’s all about neuroplasticity and stimulating those neural pathways to make them stronger and more efficient.

The benefits of being cognitively engaged were also seen in those with the apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene, which is a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD). The researchers found that only computer use and social activities were associated with a reduced risk of MCI in APOE carriers. This is another example of the important role of the environment and epigenetics and not solely focusing on the gene.

When one looks at any condition, the cause is multifactorial and there are addition things health care providers can do to help their patients. I shared a recent study in August in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry researchers at UCLA demonstrated the importance of a healthy diet and regular exercise and its impact on reducing amyloid plaque build-ups that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Previous research has demonstrated the association between diabetes and Alzheimers. A study published earlier this year in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease compared decades of research on diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Additionally, a study published in 2015 in the journal, Neurology, demonstrated that resveratrol stabilized amyloid-beta40 (Abeta40) in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. This biomarker declines when the disease progresses.

Another study published in 2015 in JAMA Neurology demonstrated a significant association between vitamin D insufficiency and cognitive decline specifically seen Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids are also crucial nutrients involved in numerous metabolic processes that play a significant role in cognitive health. There was an interesting study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Researchers found a link between Omega-3 levels, homocysteine, and brain atrophy rates. Homocysteine plays a role in regulating phospholipid metabolism and omega-3 distribution by the methionine cycle. As a result, B vitamins are essential for the synthesis of phospholipids. This study demonstrated when omega-3 levels are in an upper normal range, B vitamins slow cognitive decline and brain atrophy.

Glutathione is also essential for neurodegenerative disease. This powerful antioxidant has been found to be depleted in the brain of neurodegenerative disorders. Providing antioxidant support with NAC or glutathione are essential for neurodegenerative disorders because the body’s cells are more susceptible to damage and death after 40 years of age.

Curcumin also provides protection amyloid-induced toxicity. There are only a few natural products that have demonstrated the wide range of protective properties as curcumin. Additional brain supportive nutrients include magnesium l-threonate, acetyl-l-carnitine, and glycerophosphocholine.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Janina Krell-Roesch, Prashanthi Vemuri, Anna Pink, Rosebud O. Roberts, Gorazd B. Stokin, Michelle M. Mielke, Teresa J. H. Christianson, David S. Knopman, Ronald C. Petersen, Walter K. Kremers, Yonas E. Geda. Association Between Mentally Stimulating Activities in Late Life and the Outcome of Incident Mild Cognitive Impairment, With an Analysis of the APOE ε4 Genotype. JAMA Neurology, 2017; DOI: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.3822

Vitamin C may prevent atrial fibrillation in high risk patients

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an increasing common cardiac rhythm disturbance that can lead to stroke and congestive heart failure. It can be facilitated by inflammation and oxidative stress and in approximately 30% of patients undergoing cardiac procedures suffer from post-operative AF.

According to a study published 2 days ago in BMC Cardiovascular Disorders, researchers in Finland conducted a systematic review of vitamin C for preventing AF in high risk patients. They analyzed 14 randomized control trials consisting of 2006 patients who had cardiac surgery, and one study with 44 patients that had investigated the recurrence of AF after a successful cardioversion.

Interestingly, the 5 studies in the USA found no effect of vitamin C against post-operative AF. On the other hand, the 9 studies performed outside of the USA found a mean reduction of 44 and a study in Greece found that vitamin C decreased the risk of AF recurrence by 87%.

In addition, in the non-US studies, vitamin C reduced the length of hospital stay by 12.6% and intensive care unit stay by eight percent.

One must keep in mind that some of the surgery patients in the non-US studies were administered oral vitamin C orally whereas some in the US studies were given intravenous vitamin C.

As a result, oral vitamin C at 1-2 grams a day decreased post-operative AF by 73% and shortened the length of hospital stay by only 7%. Intravenous vitamin C only decreased AF by 36% but shortened the length of hospital stay by 16%. In conclusion, intravenous vitamin C administration had a greater on reducing the hospital stay but less effective for reducing the occurrence of post-operative AF.

Vitamin C is a very inexpensive powerful nutrient and antioxidant and should be considered for cardiac surgery patients. Other nutrients to support the disruption of metabolic processes and preserve energy substrates include a multivitamin/mineral formula, fish oil, D-ribose, CoQ10, carnitine, and magnesium.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Harri Hemilä, Timo Suonsyrjä. Vitamin C for preventing atrial fibrillation in high risk patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Cardiovascular Disorders, 2017; 17 (1) DOI: 10.1186/s12872-017-0478-5

Study links inflammation and changes in the gut microbiome to Type I diabetes

There has been a significant increase in the incidence of autoimmune disorders over the past several decades. For every 1,000 Americans, approximately one and five people have Type 1 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes typically develops when the body’s own immune system attacks the pancreas and prevents the production of insulin.

There has been increasing evidence of the correlation between the gut and Type I diabetes. Alessio Fasano, MD brought this to everyone’s attention in “Surprises from Celiac Disease” published in Scientific American August 2009. In this article he discusses the role of zonulin and intestinal permeability and its role in many autoimmune diseases such as celiac disease, type I diabetes, MS, and rheumatoid arthritis.

According to a new study published last week in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers demonstrated that patients with Type 1 diabetes exhibit a specific inflammatory profile and microbiome composition that is different from healthy individuals as well as other autoimmune conditions suggesting the gut’s potential role in the development of Type I diabetes.
This is the first study to analyze the inflammatory profile, gut microbiome and their association on duodenal mucosa of patients with Type I diabetes in comparison with patients with celiac disease and healthy individuals.

In the study, researchers examined the microbiome of 54 individuals who underwent endoscopies and biopsies of the small intestine. The participants with Type 1 diabetes showed significantly more inflammation of the gastrointestinal mucosa associated to 10 specific genes which was different then the participants with celiac disease and healthy individuals. This may result in an increased antigenic load causing altered immune activation and intestinal inflammation that may contribute to the destruction of pancreatic β cells. In addition, those with Type 1 diabetes also had a distinct microbiome composition from the other two groups. Patients with Type I diabetes had a decrease in Proteobacteria and an increase in Firmicutes bacteria.

Autoimmunity can occur a few different ways. First, there can be a mistaken identity and the body attacks itself. This can occur with a virus where there is tissue destruction and it appears to be foreign to the body. Second, is called molecular mimicry. This occurs when the body makes an antibody (a protein in the body that attacks objects in the body that appear to be foreign) to a specific antigen. These antigens can resemble certain proteins in the body and the antibodies attack our body’s own tissues. Third, is the development of the T cells (the immune system). This can be affected by genetics, stress, and environmental triggers.

Environmental triggers are what integrative doctors mainly work with in functional medicine. These can be food triggers such as gluten or food sensitivities that can trigger inflammation as well as anything coming in with the food such as toxins or molds. In addition, the nutrient status of the person. This can be antioxidant status, vitamins, essential fatty acids, vitamin D, etc. Also, gut health. This includes “leaky gut” and dysbiosis. Finally, there are toxins that can be affect the status of the immune system. These are heavy metals, xenobiotics, as well as the total toxic burden in the body.

It has not been determined if Type 1 diabetes’ signature effect on the gut is caused by or the result of the body’s own attacks on the pancreas but It is essential to investigate into these factors for all patients with autoimmunity.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Lorenzo Piemonti et al. Duodenal mucosa of patients with type 1 diabetes shows distinctive inflammatory profile and microbiota. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, January 2017 DOI: 10.1210/jc.2016-3222

New study demonstrates efficacy of vitamin D supplementation with autism spectrum disorder

Approximately 2% of American children experience symptoms among the autism spectrum including deficits in social interaction, impairment in verbal and nonverbal communication, and stereotyped patterns of activities. Many families seek integrative doctors to investigate food sensitivities, environmental toxins, nutritional deficiencies, and metabolic imbalances not seen on the usual laboratory testing.

According to a study published 2 weeks ago in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, researchers demonstrated the efficacy of vitamin D supplementation in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Vitamin D has an essential role in neurodevelopment, gene regulation, immune function, inflammation, and overall health. Previous studies have shown a link between the risk of ASD and vitamin D insufficiency. In addition, vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is linked with adverse effects in the fetus and an increased risk of autism.

This study was a 4-month, double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled trial including 109 children with ASD from outpatient clinics and five private autism treatment centers. Serum vitamin D levels were measured at the beginning and at the end of the study.

Vitamin D supplementation was dosed at 300 IU per kg/day and not to exceed 5,000 IU/day. The autistic symptoms of the children improved significantly following 4-months vitamin D supplementation, which was not seen in the placebo group. There was a significant improvement in irritability, hyperactivity, social withdrawal, stereotypic behavior, and inappropriate speech as well as significantly fewer autistic mannerisms such as, repetitive hand movements, creation of noises, and jumping.

This is the first double-blinded RCT demonstrating the efficacy of vitamin D supplementation in children with ASD. Nutrition is incredibly important and can be difficult to accomplish for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. It can be difficult for some parents to get their kids to eat a nutrient dense diet. Children are growing, the brain is developing and there tends to be some nutritional gaps due to lack of variety in their diet, soil deficiencies, or eating processed, convenience foods. Children may be influenced by advertising or packaging and sometimes pick products to eat. A well balanced diet consisting of whole foods should be the number one priority and foundation of their health but supplements can definitely fill in some of the gaps to support optimal health.

The level of nutrient intake that maintains the best possible health is highly variable from person to person. Lifestyle choices and environmental exposures filtered through genetic predisposition are fundamental factors in ASD, and a successful treatment approach must include investigation into these factors. It is important to assess the nutrient status of the child. This can be the antioxidant status, vitamins, essential fatty acids, vitamin D, B12, folate, calcium, etc. An organic acid test is also a great test to assess nutrient deficiencies, oxidative stress, and detoxification impairment as well as stool testing to assess the gut microbiome.

Source: Saad, K. et al. Randomized controlled trial of vitamin D supplementation in children with autism spectrum disorder. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2016.