SpectraCell Blog

The Role of Omega-3s in ADHD & Autism

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 @ 02:24 PM

ADHD-Autism.jpgResearchers first linked ADHD to essential fatty acid deficiency in the early 1980s, and recent years have seen an unprecedented rise in autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  Since our nerves and brain are composed primarily of fats, poor omega-3 fatty acid status can alter neurotransmitter function and inhibit brain performance on many levels.  This deficiency has a greater impact on males because their requirements for essential fatty acids are, in general, much higher (and one reason why autism occurs more frequently in boys).

Brain and nerve growth throughout childhood is extraordinarily rapid, and the need for omega-3 fatty acids remains critical all the way through adolescence and into adulthood. The brain can actually create nerve pathways in response to new experiences and learning environments. Called “neuronal plasticity,” this phenomenon is crucial for long-term memory and learning.  Adequate levels of the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are needed for this to occur.

The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (both types differ in structure and function) also affects neuronal plasticity. Scientists now agree that this ratio is just as important as the actual levels of each, especially in autism and ADHD. A lower ratio is better and when this ratio is improved, symptoms of autism and ADHD often improve.

Stimulant drugs such as Ritalin are commonly prescribed for ADHD, but studies show that supplements can be equally effective in treating symptoms of ADHD. An Oxford University study demonstrated that fatty acid supplementation for three months to children struggling with ADHD resulted in improvements in reading, spelling and behavior; these results were not observed in the placebo group. Following administration of the same supplements to the placebo group in the study as a second part of this trial, the same improvements were eventually observed.

Discover whether your child has an essential fatty acid deficiency and learn how our solutions can aid in treating symptoms of ADHD and Autism. 

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Topics: autism, DHA, ADHD, autism speaks, Omega-3s in ADHD and Autism, Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency

Nutrition Speaks: The Role of Micronutrient Deficiencies in Autism

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 @ 12:06 PM

autism.jpgWhen people think of autism and nutrition, the first thing that comes to mind is often food sensitivities, especially given the widespread attention to the impact of certain additives and common triggers (such as wheat or dairy) on that condition. But it is worth considering that micronutrient levels can have a profound impact on autistic symptoms. The list below includes specific micronutrients suggested to have a role in the development and treatment of autism:

Vitamin D: High-dose vitamin D therapy reversed autistic behaviors in severely deficient children; maternal vitamin D deficiency may predispose children to autism.

Vitamin A: One cause of autism may be a defect in a retinoid receptor protein (G-alpha protein) that is critical for language processing, attention, and sensory perception. Evidence suggests that natural vitamin A fixes this protein defect in autistics.

Folate: Oral folate therapy can resolve symptoms of autism in some cases, particularly in autistics with genes that impair folate-dependent enzymes.

Glutamine: Blood levels of this amino acid - which acts as a neurotransmitter - are particularly low in autistics. Glutamine also helps prevent leaky gut syndrome, which can exacerbate autistic symptoms.

Vitamin C: Improves symptom severity and sensory motor scores in autistic patients possibly due to interaction with dopamine synthesis; it also has a strong sparing effect on glutathione.

Glutathione & Cysteine: Both are commonly deficient in autistic patients. Low antioxidant status impairs detoxification and methylation processes, and has been linked to neurological symptoms in autism, which is often considered an oxidative stress disorder.

Vitamin B1: Deficiency linked to delayed language development; supplementation may benefit autistic patients.

Vitamin B12: Low B12 impairs methylation (detoxification), which can cause the neurological damage responsible for many autistic symptoms. B12 deficiency can cause optic neuropathy and vision loss in autistics; B12 raises cysteine and glutathione levels.

Vitamin B6: Cofactor for the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine; conversion of B6 to its active form is compromised in many autistics. Supplementation trials with B6 resulted in better eye contact, improved speech, and fewer self-stimulatory behavior in autistics. Some consider B6 in combination with magnesium to be a breakthrough treatment for autism.

Magnesium: Cofactor for the neurotransmitters that affect social reactions and emotion; autistics have low levels. Magnesium improves the effectiveness of B6 therapy.

Zinc: Eliminates mercury from brain tissue. The zinc/ copper ratio is particularly low in autistic kids, and low zinc impairs metallothionein, a protein that removes heavy metals from the body.

Carnitine: Transports fatty acids into cells. Low carnitine status, a common feature of autism, impairs the ability to use fatty acids for learning and social development.

For a copy of SpectraCell's Nutrition Correlation chart on autism, click here. 

To evaluate your micronutrient status, order your micronutrient test today!

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Topics: Cysteine, zinc, folate, Vitamin D, Carnitine, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, autism, Glutamine, Glutathione, Vitamin B1, nutrition and autism, nutrition speaks, autistic symptoms, micronutrient deficiencies, autism speaks

SpectraCell's Nutritional Correlation Chart on Autism

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Wed, Feb 06, 2013 @ 01:54 PM

Autism Nutritional WheelVitamin D - High dose vitamin D therapy reversed autistic behaviors in severely deficient children; Maternal vitamin D deficiency may predispose children to autism.3,4,5

Vitamin A - One cause of autism may be a defect in a retinoid receptor protein (G-alpha protein) which is critical for language processing, attention and sensory perception; Evidence suggests natural vitamin A fixes this protein defect in autistics.1,2

Folate - Oral folate therapy can resolve symptoms of autism in some cases, particularly in autistics with genes that impair folate dependent enzymes.31,32,33

Glutamine - Blood levels of this amino acid which acts as a neurotransmitter are particularly low in autistics. Glutamine also helps prevent leaky gut syndrome, which can exacerbate autistic symptoms.28,29,30

Vitamin C - Improved symptom severity and sensory motor scores in autistic patients possibly due to interaction with dopamine synthesis; Vitamin C also has a strong sparing effect on glutathione.26,27

Glutathione & Cysteine -  Commonly deficient in autistic patients, lack of these antioxidants impair detoxification and methylation processes; Low levels linked to neurological symptoms in autism which is often considered an oxidative stress disorder.21,22,23,24,25

Vitamin B1 - Deficiency linked to delayed language development; Supplementation may benefit autistic patients.19,20

Vitamin B12 - Low B12 impairs methylation (detoxification) which causes the neurological damage responsible for many autistic symptoms; Deficiency of B12 can cause optic neuropathy and vision loss in autistics; B12 raises cysteine and glutathione levels.16,17,18

Vitamin B6 - Cofactor the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine; Conversion of B6 to its active form is compromised in many autistics; Supplementation trials with B6 resulted in better eye contact, speech and fewer self-stimulatory behavior in autistics; Some consider B6 in combination with magnesium to be a breakthrough treatment for autism.14,15

Magnesium - Cofactor for the neurotransmitters that affect social reactions and emotion; Autistics have low levels; Improves effectiveness of B6 therapy.11,12,13

Zinc - Eliminates toxic mercury from brain tissue; Zinc/ copper ratio is particularly low in autistic kids; Low zinc impairs  the protein (called metallothionein) that removes heavy metals from the body.8,9,10

Carnitine - Transports fatty acids into cells; Low carnitine (common in autism) impairs the ability to use fatty acids for learning and social development.6,7

 For a copy of Spectracell's Nutrition Correlation chart on Autism click here

Topics: micronutrients, micronutrient testing, Cysteine, Antidepressants, zinc, folate, Vitamin D, Carnitine, Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, B Vitamins, Antioxidants, diagnostic tools, supplements, autism, Vitamins, DNA, deficiencies, health, deficiency, Depression, Glutamine, Neurology, Glutathione, Diet, Minerals, Digestion, Brain, Nervous System, Neurotransmitters, Aggression, Stress, Vitamin B1, degenerative illness, micronutrient test

SpectraCell's Clinical Updates - volume 6 Issue 11

Posted by Char Perez on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 @ 11:18 AM

CLINICAL UPDATE – Nutritional status of mom has major implications foNutrition, Vitamins, vitamin B12r baby 

Three recent studies emphasize the fallacy of the paradigm “baby gets what he needs at the expense of the mother.” In one study done in the Netherlands, researchers evaluated over 3200 mothers for blood folate levels and their children at three years of age for behavioural and emotional problems. Although the implications of low folate status of the mother on neurological development is well established, this study reported that low folate status of the mother is linked with a “higher risk of emotional problems in the offspring.”  An unrelated study in India found a similar result with vitamin B12 and heart function. Cord blood of mothers was compared to the cardiac function of their babies. “Children born to mothers with a lower vitamin B12 status have a reduced cardiac sympathetic activity.”  Finally, a review of studies done between 1999 and 2011 concluded that vitamin D deficiency of mom is linked to gestational diabetes. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, June 2012),(Maternal and Child Nutrition, May 2012),(Journal of Obstetric,  Gynecologic and Neonatal Nursing, May 2012)

Link to Abstract Maternal folate status in early pregnancy and child emotional and behavioral problems: the Generation R Study.

Link to Abstract Low maternal vitamin B12 status during pregnancy is associated with reduced heart rate variability indices in young children.

Link to Abstract Maternal vitamin d status as a critical determinant in gestational diabetes.

CLINICAL UPDATE - E Zinc deficiency common in diabetics                                                        

Diabetes, E-zinc, serumSerum and intracellular levels were measured in 75 type I and II diabetics and compared to 75 age matched controls.  Zinc levels were significantly lower in diabetic patients.  Authors of the study reported that in vivo and in vitro studies indicate that zinc promotes insulin signalling and supplementation may be a potential treatment in zinc-deficient diabetics. (Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, November 2012)   

Link to Abstract Disturbed zinc homeostasis in diabetic patients by in vitro and in vivo analysis of insulinomimetic activity of zinc.

CLINICAL UPDATE – N-acetylcysteine lowers irritability in autistic kids

In this randomized clinical trial on 33 autistic children ages three to ten years old, a dose of 900mg N-acetylcysteine was given twice daily for 12 weeks.   At each 4 week interval, a standardized test was given to measure irritability and behaviour on each child.  After three months, those receiving the high-dose N-acetylcysteine had significant improvements on their irritability compared to the placebo group. (Biological Psychiatry, June 2012)      

Link to Abstract  A randomized controlled pilot trial of oral N-acetylcysteine in children with autism.

CLINICAL UPDATE – Vitamin D trial shows it can reduce body fat


vitamin D
In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, 77 people were given either 25mμg of vitamin D or placebo for 12 weeks. Researchers concluded that “supplementation with vitamin D3 caused a statistically significant decrease in body fat mass.”  Specifically, the vitamin D group lost six pounds while the placebo group lost an average of only one pound. (Nutrition Journal, May 2012)             

Link to Abstract A 12-week double-blind randomized clinical trial of vitamin D3 supplementation on body fat mass in healthy overweight and obese women.

Link to Full Text 

CLINICAL UPDATE – Vitamin K reduces diabetes risk

diabetes, vitaminsDietary intake of phylloquinone (a form of vitamin K) was assessed in over a thousand men and women.  Those with increased intake of vitamin K hahave lower rates of diabetes.  As a follow up to the study, the people who increased their dietary vitamin K during the follow-up had 51% reduced risk of diabetes. (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2012)                                           

Link to Abstract Dietary phylloquinone intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in elderly subjects at high risk of cardiovascular disease.

CLINICAL UPDATE – Vitamin E kills cancer cells

Cancer Cells Immune SystemThe alpha, delta and gamma tocotrienol forms of vitamin E were evaluated on leukemic cancer cells.  The delta tocotrienol form of vitamin E, which was the most potent in killing cancer cells, changed the DNA of the cancerous cells in such a way that it induced the cancerous cells to undergo apoptosis (cell death). (Microscopy and Microanalysis, June 2012)      

 

Link to Abstract Delta- and gamma-tocotrienols induce classical ultrastructural apoptotic changes in human T lymphoblastic leukemic cells.                               

To further enhance your knowledge of nutritional considerations for improved clinical patient care, click here for our webinar series library.       

Topics: cancer cells, autoimmune diseases, zinc, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, vitamin, nutrition testing, wellness, pregnancy, Serum, Vitamin K, Vitamin B12, supplements, Multivitamins, Chronic Disease, Weight Loss, Nutrition, diabetes, immune system, expecting mothers, cord blood, cardiac, early pregnancy, E-zinc, N-acetylcysteine, autism, body fat, Vitamins, DNA, overweight, breast cancer, leukemia, Women's Health

Nutritional Considerations of ADHD & Autism

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Mon, Jan 23, 2012 @ 01:58 PM

ADHD & AutismADHD and AUTISM ON THE RISE
Recent years has seen an unprecedented rise in autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Although researchers speculate on the reason for this rise, many factors likely contribute, including more accurate diagnosis. However, overwhelming evidence suggests that nutritional deficiencies may be a contributing factor.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS ARE KEY
Our brain and nerves are composed mostly of fat. The most important of these are called omega-3 fatty acids and are found primarily in fish or fish oil supplements. Also called EPA and DHA, they are absolutely necessary for human health, and their concentration in the brain makes them key players in neurological disorders such as autism and ADHD. Brain and nerve growth throughout childhood is extraordinarily rapid, and the need for omega-3 fatty acids remains critical all the way through adolescence and into adulthood. Overwhelming evidence implicates deficiencies in omega-3 fatty acids for the rise in autism and ADHD. Research shows that children with low scores on behavioral assessment tests consistently have lower omega-3 fatty acids levels, and when supplemented with fish oils, the symptoms of ADHD in these children such as hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and inability to pay attention - dramatically improve.

Omega 3 & 6WHY MEASURE THE OMEGA-6 TO OMEGA-3 RATIO?
We are familiar with the expression that a child’s brain is like a sponge, ready to absorb information at an astounding rate. A truly appropriate analogy, it stems from the fact that our brains can actually create nerve pathways in response to new experiences and learning environments. Called “neuronal plasticity,” this phenomena is crucial for long-term memory and learning. Proper levels of the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), is important for membrane fluidity. The ratio of omega-6 fatty acids, which differ in structure and function, to omega-3 fatty acids affect neuronal plasticity as well. Scientists now agree that the ratio of omega-6 fats to omega-3 fats is as important as the actual levels, especially in autism and ADHD. A lower ratio is better and when this ratio is improved, symptoms of autism and ADHD can improve as well.

ZINC – THE MOOD MINERAL
Zinc deficiency is often implicated in ADHD because it is an important co-factor to several neurotransmitters, which directly affect mood and learning ability. Specifically, zinc affects the production of dopamine, a feel-good chemical in our brains that is needed for learning and certain emotions like motivation and pleasure. In fact, studies show that zinc levels correlate with anxiety and behavioral problems, as well as have a significant effect on information processing in boys with ADHD. Since zinc levels are much lower in autistic and ADHD individuals, children with ADHD show positive behavioral and cognitive results after zinc supplementation.In addition, zinc is essential for proper elimination of the toxic metal mercury from our brain tissue, which has also been linked to autism and ADHD.

Vitamins & AutismVITAMINS AND AUTISM
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked with autism and in some cases of severe deficiency, high-dose vitamin D therapy actually reversed some of the autistic behaviors. Some research even suggests that the nutritional status of the mother during gestation can affect behavior in children. One study confirmed that low folate status in pregnancy was associated with hyperactivity in children. Other studies show that persons who carried a common gene that predisposes them to folate and vitamin B12 deficiency (called the MTHFR gene) were more likely to suffer from ADHD. Supplementation with thiamine (vitamin B1) has shown clinical benefit to some autistic children. Specifically, a deficiency in vitamin B1 has been associated with delayed language development in childhood.When deficient, biotin (vitamin B7) can potentially cause neurological problems associated with autism since the brain is quite vulnerable to biotin deficiency.

MAGNESIUM AND VITAMIN B6 – A WINNING COMBINATION
Like most nutrients, magnesium and vitamin B6 work together in improving clinical symptoms of autism and ADHD.

When a group of autistic children were supplemented with magnesium and vitamin B6, 70% of the children showed improvement in social interaction and communication. Interestingly, when the supplements were stopped, the clinical symptoms reappeared. In another study, physical aggression and inattention improved after supplementation with magnesium and vitamin B6 for a few months.

NeurotransmittersTHE ROLE OF NEUROTRANSMITTERS
Neurotransmitters are tiny chemicals that transmit information from the outside world to various parts of our brains and from our brains to the rest of our bodies. Although neurotransmitters, such as choline, glutamine, asparagine and inositol may not be recognized as household names, they profoundly affect emotions, thinking and social behavior. For example, levels of glutamine and asparagine are lower in autistic children and some adults with ADHD.

AN AMINO ACID THAT IMPROVES CARNITINE – BEHAVIOR
Carnitine is an amino acid whose primary function is to transport fatty acids, including the ever-so-important omega-3 fatty acids into cells so they can be used for energy. In autistic individuals, carnitine levels are significantly reduced, which then affects the patient’s ability to use the fatty acids that are so critical to their learning and social development.
A recent study demonstrated that carnitine can reduce hyperactivity and improve social behavior in boys diagnosed with ADHD, and may actually represent a safe alternative to the use of stimulant drugs for the treatment of ADHD in children.

ADHD AND AUTISM – AN OXIDATIVE STRESS DISORDER?
Oxidative stress is a term used to describe damage to our cells that occurs on a daily basis throughout our bodies. Fortunately, our bodies have built-in defenses against the onslaught of internal and external toxins causing oxidative stress in our tissues. Interestingly, several studies show an increase in oxidative stress in both autism and ADHD, resulting in an impaired ability to eliminate toxins. Specifically, adults with ADHD have extremely low levels of some of the most powerful antioxidants in the body. One study linked damage in fatty tissue surrounding our cells to symptoms of autism and ADHD. Minerals such as selenium and copper, antioxidants such as cysteine and vitamin E and several other nutrients ensure the body’s powerful defense systems work optimally.

ADHD & AutismA MULTI-FACETED APPROACH
Since so many nutrients are needed to keep our amazingly complex brain and nervous system functioning properly, a comprehensive assessment of your nutritional status is key. In disorders like autism and ADHD, the potential improvement of symptoms when even a single deficiency is corrected can often be quite dramatic.

For more information, contact us at spec1@spectracell.com or call 800-227-5227.

Topics: zinc, Carnitine, Magnesium, Vitamin B6, Omega 3 Fatty Acid, vitamin, autism, Omega 3s, Neurotransmitters, ADHD, Nutritional Deficiency, Oxidative Stress, Omega 6

Webinar: Nutritional Considerations of ADHD & Autism

Posted by SpectraCell Laboratories, Inc. on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 @ 10:16 AM

PreseMother and childnted by: Dr. Ron Grabowski

Learn how micronutrient testing and nutritional considerations can be implemented into your practice to improve patient care. This webinar focuses the nutritional considerations of ADHD & Autism.

Presentation Topics:

  • What laboratory tests should be ordered with an autistic individual?
  • How does homocysteine play a role in Autism?
  • How does zinc play a role with ADHD?
  • What levels of Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to be effective with ADHD? 
  • Case Study Review

Watch the webinar on Nutritional Considerations of ADHD & Autism.

Topics: micronutrient testing, Homocysteine, zinc, Omega 3 Fatty Acid, autism, ADHD