Omega-3 and Vitamin E Combined Beneficial for Children with Autism.

Omega-3 and Vitamin E Combined Beneficial for Children with Autism.
Source: Alternative Therapies In Health And Medicine
Date Added:8/27/2009 8:53:00 AM
Date to be Archived:8/27/2019

Autism is a brain development disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. These signs all begin before a child is three years old. Autism affects many parts of the brain; how this occurs is not yet understood. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child's life. Although early behavioral or cognitive intervention can help children gain self-care, social, and communication skills, there is no known cure. Not many children with autism live independently after reaching adulthood. About a third to a half of individuals with autism do not develop enough natural speech to meet their daily communication needs. The main goals of treatment are to lessen associated deficits and family distress, and to increase quality of life and functional independence. No single treatment is best and treatment is typically tailored to the child's needs.

In the late 1970s, scientists learned that the native Inuits in Greenland, who consumed a diet very high in omega-3 fatty acids, had surprisingly low rates of heart attacks. Since that time thousands of scientific studies have evaluated the multiple ways that omega-3 fatty acids promotes not only cardiovascular health, but also the healthy functioning of many other biological activities. Omega-3 refers to a group or "family" of unsaturated fatty acids. The first fatty acid in this group is named alpha linolenic acid or just linolenic acid, and sometimes it is just called omega-3. Linolenic acid cannot be made in the body and therefore, it is classified as an essential fatty acid and must be obtained from either the diet or in supplement form. The other two fatty acids in the omega-3 family are named eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The body can manufacture EPA and DHA by conversions from linolenic acid.

Vitamin E is an extremely important fat-soluble antioxidant. It insures the stability and integrity of cellular tissues and membranes throughout the body by preventing free radical damage. In addition to its antioxidant activity, vitamin E may support overall cardiovascular and circulatory health. It may also support the immune system and vision. During heavy exercise, vitamin E may also reduce the amount of exercise-induced free radical damage to the blood and tissues while helping the body reduce the incidence of exercise-induced muscle injury.

Verbal apraxia is a neurologically based motor planning speech disorder common in autism spectrum disorders. Previous research has found that vitamin E deficiency can cause symptoms that are similar to those of verbal apraxia. A recent study, which included 187 children with verbal apraxia, sought to investigate whether some children with autism and apraxia would respond to nutritional interventions using vitamin E and omega 3 supplementation. The children were treated with vitamin E and omega 3 then a celiac panel, a fat-soluble vitamin test and carnitine levels were obtained from the study participants using blood samples. The results revealed that a common clinical phenotype of male predominance, autism, sensory issues, low muscle tone, coordination difficulties, food allergy and GI symptoms emerged. With vitamin E and omega 3 supplementation all of the families involved reported significant improvements in many areas including speech, imitation, coordination, eye contact, behavior, sensory issues and development of pain sensation. These results suggest that further research is warranted to determine whether more children with autism spectrum disorder and verbal apraxia would be responsive to nutritional interventions using vitamin E and omega 3, in addition to traditional speech and occupational therapy.1

1 Morris CR, Agin MC. Syndrome of allergy, apraxia, and malabsorption: characterization of a neurodevelopmental phenotype that responds to omega 3 and vitamin E supplementation. Altern Ther Health Med. Aug2009;15(4):34-43.