Autism – essential nutrients

Autism is a complex condition sharing many similarities with other conditions such as dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD.

For a diagnosis of autism to be made, there must be some other symptoms such as difficulty with speech, abnormalities of posture or gesture, impaired understanding of feelings of others, sensory of visual disperceptions, fears, anxieties and behavioural abnormalities such as obsessive compulsive behaviour and ritualistic movements. Autism appears to be occurring more often, and while it used to occur primarily from birth, over the last 15 years there has been a dramatic increase in late–onset autism, most frequently diagnosed in the second year of life.

Here’s what I recommend:

1. Ensure that any nutrient deficiencies are addresses. Research has shown that taking care of any nutrient deficiencies can dramatically improve symptoms in autistic children, Nutrients of particular importance are vitamins B6, C and A and zinc and magnesium. A condition called Pyroluria should be suspected in children with facial swelling and with a history of frequent colds and middle ear infections and can be tested with a urine test. You’ll need to see a nutritional therapist to have this urine test done.

2. Ensure adequate intake of essential fats. Research has shown that some autistic children have an enzymatic defect that removes essential fatty acids from brain membranes more quickly than it should. Consequently supplementing the omega-3 fatty acid EPA, which not only compensates for the extra need but also appears to slow the activity of this enzyme may show beneficial effects. Thirdly, remove allergens. In addition to nutrient deficiencies, the most significant contributing factor in autism appears to be undesirable foods and chemicals that often reach the brain via the bloodstream because of faulty digestion and absorption. The foods which seem to adversely influence a large number of children include wheat and other gluten-containing grains, milk and other dairy products including casein, citrus fruits, chocolate, artificial food colourings, paracetamol, salicylates (prunes, raisins, raspberries, almonds, apricots, canned cherries, blackcurrants oranges, strawberries, grapes, tomato sauce, plums, cucumbers and Granny Smith apples) and nightshade family foods ( potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, chillies and aubergines). The strongest direct evidence of food linked to autism involves wheat and dairy and the specific proteins they contain – namely gluten and casein. These are difficult to digest and and can result in allergy, especially if introduced too early in life.

3. Finally supplement probiotics for a healthy gut. A large proportion of children receive repeated or prolonged courses of antibiotics drugs for ear or other respiratory infections during the first year of life. Such broad spectrum antibiotics kill the good as well as the bad bacteria in the gut, weakening the intestinal membranes. Restoring a healthy gut by supplementing digestive enzymes and probiotics is known to produce positive results in autistic children. The amino acid glutamine is especially important in restoring the integrity of the digestive tract. Drinking 5g dissolved in water just before bedtime can help heal the gut.