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How Does Vitamin D Support Autism?

How Does Vitamin D Support Autism?

Vitamin D plays several important roles in supporting children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Its impact is linked to many physiological and neurological functions, which can influence the overall well-being of children with autism.

Brain Development and Function:

Vitamin D is vital for brain development and function. It influences neurogenesis (the growth and development of neurons), neuroprotection (protection of neurons), and neurotransmission (communication between neurons). These processes are significant for supporting proper cognitive and behavioural development.

Vitamin D is involved in synaptic plasticity, which is the brain's ability to form and reorganise synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or after injury. This is particularly important for cognitive flexibility and learning capabilities.

Studies have shown that Vitamin D receptors (VDRs) are widely distributed in the brain, including in areas associated with behaviour and social communication, which are often affected in autism.

Learn more here.

Immune System Regulation:

Children with autism often exhibit dysregulated immune responses, including increased pro-inflammatory cytokines and autoimmunity. Vitamin D has immunomodulatory effects, meaning it can help regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation.

Studies have found that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in individuals with autism, suggesting that adequate Vitamin D levels could help modulate these inflammatory responses .

Some research indicates that Vitamin D supplementation can reduce markers of inflammation in children with autism, potentially leading to improvements in symptoms. 

Oxidative Stress and Antioxidant Defence:

Children with autism often exhibit elevated oxidative stress, which can damage cells and tissues, including the brain. Vitamin D has antioxidant properties that help mitigate oxidative damage.

Vitamin D also supports the production of glutathione, a major antioxidant in the body, which helps protect cells from oxidative stress and supports detoxification processes.

Serotonin Synthesis and Function:

Vitamin D is involved in the regulation of serotonin synthesis. It activates the gene that produces tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (TPH2), the enzyme responsible for converting tryptophan to serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a key neurotransmitter involved in mood, social behaviour, and cognitive functions, which are often impaired in autism.

While serotonin synthesis in the gut (peripheral) affects overall health and immunity, brain (central) serotonin directly impacts behaviour and mood regulation. Vitamin D helps balance the production of serotonin in both regions.

Studies have indicated that children with autism often have abnormalities in serotonin levels, and Vitamin D may help normalise these levels, potentially leading to improvements in mood and behaviour.

Behavioural and Cognitive Improvements:

Supplementing with Vitamin D has been associated with reductions in autism-related symptoms, such as irritability, hyperactivity, and social withdrawal. Improvements in cognitive functions, including attention, focus, and learning, have been reported in children with autism receiving Vitamin D supplements.

 For Vitamin D supplementation, try Baba Wests Junior Vitamin D Daily Oral Spray for kids 3-12 years. Or, Baba Wests Infant Vitamin D Daily Oral Drops, for Baba's 0-3 Years. 

Regular monitoring of Vitamin D levels is important to avoid toxicity, especially since high doses can lead to hypercalcemia (elevated calcium levels in the blood).

Vitamin D supplementation should be part of a holistic approach to managing autism, including diet, behavioural therapies, and other medical treatments as needed.