Supplements – An Overview

July 7th, 2010

As a default, most ASD (autistic spectrum disorder) children NEED the Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) of supplements missing from their body and/or not being absorbed naturally via food.

A Few Hints

  1. Following a gluten-free / casein-free diet is an important part of supplementation.
  2. Proper eating – a balanced diet needs to be a part of the process. This is an on-going battle with ALL children. We as parents need to strive for balance with protein, carbs, sugars, and veggies/fruit for our kids’ good health. This sounds easier than it is, but working on this everyday will make the process easier over time.
  3. Do your best to eliminate or control these items in your child’s diet:
    • Yeast
    • Refined sugars
    • Dyes/natural flavors
    • Excessive intake of carbohydrates
  4. Testing for what supplements are missing from your child’s body is important.
  5. Working with a qualified doctor. (Visit the DAN! website or the Provider Directory)

Common Missing & Needed Supplements

Some of the most commonly missing and needed supplements for children on the spectrum are:

  • Calcium
  • Zinc
  • Magnesium
  • Cod liver oil (make sure it is tested and MERCURY FREE)
  • Essential fatty acid (EFA Powder)
  • Selenium
  • Probiotics (ProBioGold, Culturelle, Biobeads)
  • Methyl-b12 (shots or nasal spray)
  • TMG or DMG or SuperNu Thera
  • Vitamin C
  • L Carnitine
  • Quercetin & Pycnolgenol
  • L-Glutathione (oral or topical cream)
  • Vitamins A, C, D & E
  • Taurine

“Sometimes” Needed and “Sometimes Very Helpful” Supplements

  • Digestive enzymes (Enzymaid Complete w/ DPPIV)
  • Colostrum or lactoferrin.  Note: Lactoferrin is the “active ingredient” in colostrum that is helpful; dairy-free versions of colostrum or lactoferrin are 10x cheaper.

You can order these supplements from Kirkman Labs as hypoallergenic, GFCF free, and with no artificial flavors – I recommend Kirkman Labs because they work primarily with kids that have special needs. They do GREAT, INCREDIBLE phone consultations that walk you through their products and explain everything. They even have a PARENT INFORMATION GUIDE that describes all their products in detail and the RDA for your child. This guide is free from Kirkman Labs.

Now, with all good things are rules. Parents need to follow directions given by supplement manufacturers and their doctors.

Other Supplement Suggestions

  1. Do not overload your kids. Give them the RDA for their weight and age per a doctor. Or contact the manufacturer.
  2. Because most of our kids have a leaky gut, these supplements will not absorb properly. Be strict about maintaining a gluten-free/casein-free (GFCF) diet and this will be repaired over TIME (1 year or more). Then, these supplements will actually work!
  3. Add one supplement at a time three weeks apart. Document, document, document!! (Check for changes in behavior, rashes, difference in sleep patterns, appearance or amplification of self-stimulatory behavior, or mood swings.)
    1. NOTE: Here is a great sample of a daily food/behavior, supplement diary.
  4. Ideas for getting supplements in your child:
    1. My family has had success putting supplements in my son’s rice milk or diluted pear juice.
    2. For cod liver oil, try small micro dots of them on your child’s favorite foods.
    3. Sprinkle supplements on foods–be sure that the food is completely eaten
    4. Some parents use a syringe and “squirt” the supplements into foods.
    5. Break doses down in multiple drinks or sittings.
      Give them out 1/2 of a dose at a time for example; calcium 1/4 tsp. for Jeff in the morning drink and another at dinner time.
    6. Use a juicer to create a health juice and vitamin mix that can mask the supplement flavors into a healthy drink.
  5. Buy small samples of supplements. Check to see if they work. We have 4-5 LARGE JARS of supplements that did not work for Jeff that costs $35-$45 dollars EACH. Money that needlessly went down the drain!
  6. Ask what supplements should be taken with food, not with other supplements, by themselves, or at night.
    1. For example: ProBio Gold is better taken ALONE and right before bed to help digestion.
    2. Do not take digestive enzymes with a probiotic! (The enzyme will digest the probiotic preventing it from having any effect on your child’s system!)
  7. A negative reaction to a supplement can be a behavior that will pass or can be a truly negative reaction. As a parent, know the difference of a reaction if you should:
    1. Stop the supplement immediately
    2. Or wait and see how your child behaviors with a smaller dose adjustment
      A good way to gage the level of the negative reaction is to ask yourself whether the negative reaction is a “liveable” reaction or a reaction that is dangerous and concerning.
  8. KEEP IN MIND you should not just give random supplements to your child. Giving supplements to your child is done with much careful thought and tests. You need several tests to verify this:
    1. Peptides & Amino Acids – I like Great Plains Laboratory
    2. Comprehensive Stool Analysis – I like Genova Diagnostics

There are many more tests you can do, but these are a great to start with.

An Interesting Story

At the DAN! (Defeat Autism NOW!) 2001 conference in an open question and answer session a parent asked “My son used to take his supplements so nicely. We started 2 years ago with a regiment that was making a difference for our son. Now when I give him his supplements, he throws up within 10 minutes!”

The answer: “STOP giving the supplements!” The moral of the story here is that supplements do not always need to be given. We constantly need to test and evaluate if the supplement regiment we provide our children is necessary and effective. Consider supplement vacations to see if supplements are truly helping or hurting your children!

It is important to note I hear a similar story at almost each conference I have attended.

Personal Story

My family began giving supplements to our son very slowly and when there were some Jeff reacted to, we stopped them and tried another. We saw a noticeable difference in Jeff’s behaviors and stools after 11 months of supplementation and strict dietary interventions along with therapy. He is doing better and eating healthier. This is achieved over time and with hard work, in plain words, NOT OVERNIGHT. You will see changes in your child, but there is no sudden magic makeover. Good things come to those who work hard and diligently.

BOTTOM LINE: Take one step at a time AND WITH A DOCTOR’S ADVICE & ASSISTANCE!

Resources

Books

Pdr Supplement A 2005: Physicians’ Desk Reference (Physicians’ Desk Reference (Pdr) Supplement), by Pdr Physicians Desk Reference for supplement descriptions and doses.

Web links:

Disclaimer: Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) provides general information of interest to the autism community. The information comes from a variety of sources, and TACA does not independently verify any of it. The views expressed herein are not necessarily TACA’s. Nothing in this document should be construed as medical advice. Always consult your child’s doctor regarding his or her individual needs.

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