Supplements – An Overview
At a minimum, most children with autism need the recommended daily allowances (RDA) of vitamins and minerals missing from their bodies and/or not being absorbed naturally via food.
The following are the most commonly used supplements for individuals with ASD. Dosages are set by the doctor, based on weight, preferably after testing shows a need.
- Calcium is a MUST if the child is on a dairy-free diet. There is not enough calcium in any multivitamin, so this must be given in a separate supplement.
- DMG/TMG raises glutathione and helps speech production.
- Enzymes aid digestion.
- Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), Omegas 3 and 6 (DHA, EPA) aid in brain development and relieve depression.
- Folic/Folinic acid aids oxidative stress/glutathione/methylation.
- Iron should be given only if tests show a need.
- Magnesium aids sleep and anxiety.
- Melatonin aids sleep.
- Probiotics improve immune and gut function.
- Vitamin A suppresses viruses, and aids the thyroid. It’s found in cod liver oil. If high dose is prescribed, take with Vitamin K.
- Vitamin B12 (MethylB12, MB12, Methylcobalamin) is usually given in shots. Hydroxy B12 is used if MB12 isn’t tolerated.
- Vitamin B6 is the most widely used supplement with ASD patients. It helps with detoxification, glutathione, neurotransmitters, blood and enzymes. Take with magnesium.
- Vitamin C aids the immune system and detoxification.
- Vitamin D3 aids calcium absorption, boosts the immune system, and is anti-inflammatory.
- Vitamin E aids the immune system and detoxification.
- Vitamin K should be used if the patient is on high-dose Vitamin A/cod liver oil.
- Zinc stimulates appetite and improves the immune system.
- Glutathione IV is most effective to aid detoxification, but Setria oral GSH has proven effective also.
- Neurotransmitter calmers (GABA, taurine, EFAs, B6, inositol, 5HTP, Magnesium, l-theanine) ease anxiety. More on anxiety at http://www.tacanow.org/family-resources/anxiety-in-autism-spectrum-disorders/
- Carnitine provides mitochondrial support to make energy.
- NADH (B3) and Ribose aid oxidative stress/glutathione/methylation.
- N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is a form of cysteine, an amino acid that is the rate-limiting factor in the production of glutathione. N-Acetyl-Glycine may be used if the patient doesn’t tolerate NAC.
For more on dosages, see http://www.tacanow.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Summary_of_Treatments_for_Autism-2013.pdf and for more supplements see http://www.tacanow.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/KirkmanRoadmap-PDF.pdf
Ten hints for successful supplementation
- Following a gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free (GFCFSF) diet is an important companion to supplementation.
- A balanced diet with protein, carbs, veggies, and fruit is important. This is an ongoing battle with ALL children. Working on this every day will make healthy eating easier over time. Do your best to eliminate or control these items in your child’s diet:
- Refined sugars
- Artificial colors and flavors, as well as natural flavors (which can be highly processed)
- Excessive carbohydrates
- Lab testing to determine your child’s medical profile and specific needs is important.
- A MAPS-trained doctor should interpret lab results and provide dosing instructions.
- Add one supplement at a time three weeks apart. Keep a daily diary and look for changes in behavior, rashes, difference in sleep patterns, appearance or amplification of self-stimulatory behavior, or mood swings.
- Buy sample sizes where possible and find out if a supplement works before you invest in a large bottle.
- Ask your doctor whether supplements should be taken with or without food; away from or combined with other supplements; in the morning or at night.
- A negative reaction to a supplement can be temporary, as the supplement begins to do its job, or it can truly be a problem. Ask yourself whether you can temporarily live with the behaviors you’re seeing, or whether the reaction is truly worrisome. Steps you may need to take (in communication with your doctor) include:
- Stop the supplement immediately
- Try a smaller dose and observe behaviors
- Adjust timing or combinations of supplements
- Know what you are buying
Do you know the differences between supplements you buy online vs. your doctor’s office vs. Walmart? Here’s what you need to look for:
- Are they synthetic or natural?
- Does the company manufacture the ingredients? If not, they cannot guarantee their quality.
- Are the supplements hypoallergenic?
- Do the supplements contain unnecessary preservatives or colorings?
- What additives are in them?
- Is the capsule casing vegetable or beef?
- How old are they?
- Strength and dosage
- Consult your doctor for dosing. RDA is based on a typical healthy child; our kids sometimes need higher doses.
- Compare dosages and price, not just the quantity in the bottle.
- Can pills be ground or capsules be opened to be mixed into juice or food?
- Does the manufacturer offer a liquid or powder version of the supplement?
- Continue to evaluate whether supplements are necessary and effective. At a 2001 conference Q&A, a parent said, “My son used to take his supplements so nicely. We started two years ago with a regimen 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!”
Pdr Supplement A 2005: Physicians' Desk Reference (Physicians' Desk Reference (Pdr) Supplement), by Pdr Physicians Desk Reference for supplement descriptions and doses.
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.