Mending Autism can be very complicated and the tackling of the subject of supplements for these children can prove to be quite daunting and confusing. There are so many different approaches on the subject that can range from adding absolutely no supplements to a $1000 per month (or more) supplement bill! The truth of the matter lies somewhere between these two approaches. Let’s take a rational and easily understood approach to the basics of supplementation.
A dietary history on most of our children typically reveals sources of Vitamins, Minerals, and Essential Fatty Acids are missing from their diet. Many of our children have self-limited diets and they simply do not ingest adequate amounts of vital nutrients. For example, vitamin C cannot be synthesized (made) by human beings, it must be ingested regularly. The main sources of Vitamin C are citrus fruits (lemons, oranges, limes, and grapefruits), tomatoes, and potatoes. When children do not eat these common sources of Vitamin C, they are at risk for developing scurvy! In these children, it is easy to argue for adding the supplement Vitamin C to the diet.
Aside from replenishment of lacking nutrients, what we really are trying to do in our children:
- Optimization of Normal Physiology
- Improve Function of the Immune System
- Enhance Cognitive Abilities
- Improve Red Cell Membrane Function
- Reduction of Autistic Behaviors
- Improve Gastrointestinal Function
- Minimize our NEGATIVE genetic influences
So, let’s take a look at the major types of supplements.
Vitamins: Vitamins are critical micronutrients for normal cellular metabolism and function. They must be consumed regularly as our bodies are not able to synthesize these vital nutrients in sufficient amounts. Vitamins are required for proper cell signaling, mediators of cell growth, function as antioxidants, and even hormones.
Minerals: The main electrolytes are Sodium, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium and Chloride. Proper levels of these minerals in the body allow the body to have energy, better muscle and nerve function (including faster stress recovery) and improved function in many other areas. The so called trace minerals including selenium, iodine, chromium, magnesium, molybdenum, just to name a few, need to be replenished daily, ideally through the diet.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: These fatty acids help maintain the fluidity and stability of cell membranes and protect the body from harmful substances such as bacteria and viruses. They must be obtained through diet or supplementation with EFA(Essential Fatty Acids) -rich food oils. They have an amazing affect on behaviors, mood, focus and concentration.
Digestive Enzymes break down the foods that we eat into smaller compounds that can be readily absorbed and put into the blood-stream. The enzyme class of proteases breaks down proteins to amino acids. The enzyme class of lipase is responsible of breaking down fats to fatty acids, and the carbohydrases break down carbohydrates into simple sugars.
Where to Begin:
1. Multivitamin and minerals
If your child does not swallow capsules, then you can go to either a liquid or powder. Liquids tend to have a really strong flavor that is hard to mask. Powders can be easily mixed in the patients drink and given through out the day. Please note that multivitamins very tremendously in both quality and in price! Look for ones that are formulated in the United States and look for:
- GMP compliant –“Good Manufacturing Process” is strictly adhered to in production
- Non-GMO – products are derived from sources that have not been “genetically modified”
- Hypoallergenic GF/CF
- Must have nutrients in amounts that that are not only appropriate for the child but can be absorbed by the child’s digestive tract.
2. Omega Oils
These oils need to come from sources that specialize in using smaller fish caught in pristine waters. There are different ways to ensure both the quality and purity. I have found that the process of molecular distillation is the safest way to make sure all heavy metal contaminants are removed from the oil.
3. Digestive Enzymes
Published studies have demonstrated that some children on the autistic spectrum have a diminished ability to produce adequate digestive enzymes that are required for the normal breakdown of food and its subsequent absorption into the blood stream. It can be readily apparent by just looking at undigested food the stool. Make sure to seek out a digestive enzyme that is truly complete and contains multiple enzymes that break down amylose, proteins, peptides, fats, cellulose, lactose, maltose, and even hemicelluloses.
After the basics are covered, supplements are usually targeted to improve a certain condition such as problems with focus and concentration, chronic constipation, or even language to name just a few. We will tackle these subjects and much more with future articles.
Dr. Jerry Kartzinel is Board Certified pediatrician and a Fellow in the American Academy of Pediatrics. He specializes in the recovery of neurodevelopmental, chronic neuro-inflammatory diseases, and hormonal dysfunctions. Dr. Jerry co-authored Healing and Preventing Autism with Jenny McCarthy.
Visit Dr. Jerry’s New Autism Information Site: MendingAutism.com for thoughtful help for healing the bod and family.