|Vitamin and Mineral Supplements
Good nutrition is essential to developing and keeping the immune system strong and healthy. Nutritional
deficiencies may be the cause of chronic immune problems because it is easier for bacteria or viruses to take
hold when important nutrients are missing. Nutritional supplements can be an effective tool of prevention.
Low levels of additional vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, folic acid, magnesium, and
chromium continue to be a significant problem in general. Based on these findings, research studies and
reviews have approved the benefits of multivitamin/mineral nutritional supplementation in the improvement
of IQ, exceeding test scores, early neurological development, and behavioral, cognitive, and academic
achievements in children with learning disabilities.
In a recent study it was found that children with autism on average had much lower levels of most vitamins
(vitamins A, C, D, and E, and all B vitamins) and some minerals (zinc, magnesium, selenium). Some people
believe that individuals with autism do not have a sufficient amount of the precise nutrients in their bodies, or
that their bodies are faulty in delivering use of the nutrients available to them.
It is believed that this flaw may be the cause of some of the symptoms of autism, such as impaired
communication and social difficulties, and that these problems can be overcome by taking supplements of
one or more vitamins. There is currently no official evidence that individuals with autism spectrum disorders
have a specific pattern of vitamin or other nutrient inadequacy, nor that vitamin or that dietary supplements
actually improve social, language or other functioning.
Important nutrients that stimulate a strong immune system include vitamins A, C, E and essential fatty acids.
The most important minerals include manganese, selenium, zinc, copper, iron, sulfur, magnesium and
germanium. You can get these nutrients from an organic whole-foods diet consisting of fresh fruits and
vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains. You may also supplement with green foods and antioxidant
Vitamin A is s a fat-soluble vitamin. It is found in animal sources, such as eggs, meat, fish, milk, cheese.
Beta carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A, is found in vegetable sources such as carrots,
squashes, and most dark green, leafy vegetables.
Benefits: Studies suggest that this vitamin shows immediate improvements in language, vision, attention and
social interaction in some children.
Downside: Taking excessive amounts of vitamin A over a very short period o f time can lead to toxic
symptoms, including nausea and vomiting, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, and muscular lack of
coordination. It can also tinge the skin orange.
Vitamin B-6 is a water-soluble vitamin and is part of the vitamin B complex. It is found in beans, nuts,
legumes, eggs, meats, fish, whole grains, and fortified breads and cereals.
Benefits: Studies claim that B6 can lead to a decrease in problems like seizure activity, increases appropriate
behaviors, attention, learning, speech and language, and eye contact a normalization of brain wave activity
and urine biochemistry.
Downside: Taking excessive amounts of vitamin B6 can cause a magnesium deficiency. It is important to
give magnesium alongside Vitamin B6 to avoid this problem. Magnesium deficiency can cause urinary
incompetence (bedwetting), irritability/agitation, and sound sensitivity. Too much magnesium can cause
diarrhea. Too much B6 can cause peripheral neuropathy – tingling or numbness in the fingers or toes.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for normal growth and development. It is found in all
fruits and vegetables.
Benefits: It is believed that vitamin C brings about significant improvement in people with autism.
Downside: Taking excessive amounts of vitamin C is difficult to do because it is water soluble and is
regularly excreted by the body. Therefore, toxicity is very rare. High doses can lead to stomach upset and
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is found in food and can also be made in your body after exposure to
ultraviolet rays from the sun.
Benefits: We have been unable to identify any specific claims for the use of vitamin D in people with autism.
Downside: Taking excessive amounts of Vitamin D can cause nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, constipation,
weakness, and weight loss. It can also raise blood levels of calcium, causing mental status changes such as
• Calcium supplements are especially important if a person is on a dairy-free diet.
• Iron supplements are needed by some typical children as well as children with autism, but should only
be given if a test indicates a need, as too much iron can also be a problem. Low iron is a leading cause of
mental retardation in the US, and 40% of infants under the age of 2 have low iron (and so do 40% of
women of child-bearing age).
• In general, nutritional supplements are a good way to boost key nutrients lacking in the diet.
Approach with Caution
All vitamins in the wrong doses can cause harm, and can also interact dangerously with other medications
being taken. These products can also be taken as supplements which come in a variety of forms, such as
tablets and drops. All vitamins can be hazardous in incorrect doses. Therefore professional advice should
always be obtained before using any vitamin supplements.