Vitamin D deficiency and Autism link has been on the minds of the vitamin D researchers for years. Finally a breakthrough study.
Investigators from Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, Oakland, California demonstrated this causal relationship in a well-designed study (1).Serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain is responsible for mood as well as normal social behavior. It is low in the brain of patients with autism and high in the blood and rest of the body. The researchers showed that vitamin D stimulates the gene that is responsible for the production of serotonin in the brain. This gene is called tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (TPH2). At the same time, vitamin D represses the gene that controls the production of serotonin in the rest of the body. This gene is called tryptophan hydroxylase 1 (TPH1).
Low vitamin D explains why autistic patients have low levels of serotonin in the brain and high levels in the rest of the body. Low level of serotonin in the brain may explain some of the neuro-psychiatric issues in patients with autism. While high levels of serotonin in the blood and rest of the body may explain some of the physical symptoms especially gastrointestinal symptoms.
Rise in Vitamin D Deficiency and Autism
It is interesting to note that the dramatic rise in the incidence of autism coincides with the dramatic rise in the incidence of vitamin D deficiency in the last three decades. It is quite likely that Vitamin d deficiency and autism are linked. Therefore, it is extremely important to check vitamin D level in every autistic patient. Vitamin D supplementation must be provided to those with low vitamin D level. The normal range of vitamin D is 30-100 ng/ml.
It is also important that vitamin D level should be checked in every pregnant woman. Vitamin D supplementation must be provided to those with low vitamin D level.
To learn more about vitamin D, please refer to my book, “Power of Vitamin D”