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  • Writer's pictureNina Dmitreff

Vitamin/mineral/micronutrient supplement for autism spectrum disorders: a research survey


1. Children with ASD may have an increased need for vitamin/mineral supplementation, due to a variety of metabolic problems, including increased oxidative stress [4, 5], methylation pathway insufficiency [6, 7], mitochondrial disorders [8], cerebral folate transporter antibodies [9], sulfate deficiency [2] and lithium deficiency [2]. Vitamins and minerals have many roles, including serving as co-factors for many enzymatic reactions, and some individuals need higher levels of those co-factors due to individual variation in enzyme function (Ames 2002) and other genetically-controlled processes. It is estimated, for example, that approximately one-third of mutations in a gene result in its corresponding enzyme having a decreased binding affinity for co-factors resulting in a lower enzyme activity. About 50 human genetic diseases can be treated to some extent with administration of high doses of a vitamin co-factor, resulting in improved enzyme activity [10].

2. The treatment group had significantly greater improvement than the control group on many different measures of autism, autism-related symptoms, non-verbal IQ, and overall developmental age. Parents rated the vitamin/mineral supplement and the essential fatty acids as the highest-rated treatments, with over 85% of participants stating a desire to continue treatment with them.

3. The median time required to observe improvement was approximately 5–8 weeks, and 91% noticed significant improvement by 9–12 weeks. After the first few months, most experienced stable benefits, with 9% reporting some loss of benefit, and 21% reporting some increase in benefit.

4. Overall, 92% of participants reported positive benefit on the Overall Benefit score (based on the NSTEA scale), with 44% reporting “good” or “great” benefit following use of the ANRC Essentials Plus (ANRC-EP) (see Table 6). The degree of benefit was significantly higher in people who followed the ANRC guidelines of starting with a lower dose and then gradually increasing during the first month; presumably this is due to giving the body more time to adjust to the higher intake of nutrients. The degree of benefit was also slightly higher in people who took it for a longer period of time; this could however be partly due to cessation of use by people who had less benefit, but also the data in Table 6 suggests that some participants (21%) had some increase in benefit after the first several months. Interestingly, other factors such as age, gender, autism severity, and diet quality did not have a significant effect on degree of benefit, suggesting that the supplement may benefit a large fraction of individuals with autism/ASD.

5. The major reason for improvement is not due to poor diets, but rather due to nutritional and metabolic differences in people with autism that require high levels of supplementation. Vitamins and minerals are important co-factors for many enzymes, and some individuals may need higher levels of those co-factors due to individual variation in enzyme function [10]. The Adams 2011 study involved an extensive study of nutritional and metabolic status of children with ASD vs. controls, and found many very significant (p < 0.001) differences, including lower levels of biotin, plasma glutathione, RBC (red blood cell) SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine), plasma uridine, plasma ATP (adenosine triphosphate), RBC NADH (Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide), RBC NADPH (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate), plasma sulfate (free and total), and plasma tryptophan; and higher levels of oxidative stress markers and plasma glutamate. Treating those children with the vitamin/mineral supplement resulted in significant improvements in most of those biomarkers, and presumably similar effects occurred in this study.

6. In summary, the studies to date of ANRC-EP and its earlier versions consistently found many positive benefits with few adverse effects for a wide range of children and adults with autism/ASD.

NOTE: ANRC-EP is Dr. James Adams' formulation, which you may purchase directly through the Autism Research Nutrition Center. (I love, and have no financial interest whatsoever in this product!).

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