Monday, March 23, 2009

Autism and the Controversy Over Vitamin D

Much has been discussed lately about the role of vitamin D and autism - particularly is additional vitamin D a beneficial biomedical therapy. Some indications are that many children on the autism-spectrum have very low levels, and that this deficiency can adversely affect brain development with respects to higher cognitive function such as complex thought, awareness, language development and more. The majority of children that I have tested show low levels of vitamin D (sometimes very low)- as evidenced by a 25(OH)D test - indicating that autistic children definitely appear to show a lack of this nutrient. However, this is not unique to autism as many individuals test low indicating that vitamin D deficiency in general may be a bigger issue than once realized. In traditional medicine the role of vitamin D has been mostly used to assist in calcium metabolism for bone health support. However, vitamin D has other function such as immune function support and protection against cancer.

There is a controversy brewing within the biomedical field for autism about vitamin D therapy, and the appropriate dosing of vitamin D. On one side there is the recommendation that higher doses of vitamin D (upwards of 5,000 to 10,000 units per day) are needed to get blood levels up high enough - in the range of 70 to 80 ng/ml - to help promote optimal health in an autistic individual. For years the standard dosing for kids has been between 100 to 400 units per day - sometimes a 1000 units per day in severely deficient children. There has always been a fear that excessive levels could be toxic. Recent information from the Vitamin D Council has shown that higher levels are likely needed to reach optimal effects, and that in general vitamin D dosing have been too low, and higher dosages are safe and appropriate.

The other side of this controversy is information put out from an organization called the Marshall Protocol. This group feels that vitamin D even at moderately elevated levels can be immune suppressive and dangerous - particularly if someone suffers from an autoimmune condition. Autoimmune diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis or Rheumatoid Arthritis are conditions where the immune system attacks various body systems - in these cases the nerves and joints, respectively. The Marshall Protocol and Vitamin D Councils position on vitamin D are polar opposites. There really does not seem to be any middle ground between the two. So who is right? In the weeks to come I will be posting some additional information about vitamin D - particularly information about the benefits of this therapy. Listed here is an interesting article from Dr. Mercola talking about the Marshall Protocol. My viewpoint, after much research, is in agreement with Dr. Mercola. Vitamin D definitely has its place as a biomedical therapy for autism.

"Ever since I started promoting the benefits of vitamin D there has been a small but vocal minority of advocates of what is referred to as the “Marshall Protocol”.

As much as I would like to ignore it due to its lack of validity, I can no longer do so, because so many people are using this information and at the very least, they are placing their health at great risk and in many cases they are damaging their health.) Read More

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