Vitamin D Council Special Report: First Successful Use Of Vitamin D Supplement For Childhood Autism

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Dr. John Cannell provides first-hand account of improvement using vitamin D supplement for a 7-year-old child with season autistic disorder

In this month's Vitamin D Council newsletter, Dr. John Cannell, psychiatrist and director of the non-profit educational organization, the Vitamin D Council, reports on a 7-year-old 50-pound boy whose autistic symptoms were clearly seasonal, who had a low serum 25-hydroxy-vitamin D, and who appeared to rapidly respond to treatment with 2,000 IU of cholecalciferol per day.

John is a seven-year old boy living in the northeastern US with a long standing diagnosis of autism. Symptoms include temper tantrums, repetitive self-stimulatory behavior, impaired language, mood swings, fear of being alone, toileting problems, dysbacteriosis, and impaired muscle strength. John spends a lot of time outdoors starting in the spring and his mother noticed a distinct seasonal variation in his symptoms in that he improved in the summer and regressed in the winter. A 25-hydroxy-vitamin D in April of 2008 was 25 ng/ml and obtained after John had begun to play outside. Due to the seasonality of John's symptoms the mother consulted me and I advised the mother to stop all products containing vitamin A including cod liver oil and begin John on 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day for two weeks followed by 2,000 IU per day in the form of powdered vitamin D dissolved in juice. Within a week of starting the vitamin D language began to return and he was no longer as fearful of being alone. At the end of two weeks his language showed further improvement, he began to toilet himself, counted to 10 and knew the spelling of his name. After three weeks language continued to improve and some improvements were noted in his dysbiosis. After four weeks of vitamin D treatment, the mother noted improvements in muscle strength as well as continued improvements in language. A repeat 25-hydroxy-vitamin D is pending while John continues taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day.

Dr. Cannell cautions that this is only a case report and does not prove a treatment effect. Parents need to understand that vitamin D will not cure autism. Furthermore, Dr. Cannell cautions that it is unlikely that older autistic children or individuals with severe autism will show these sorts of apparent improvements. Furthermore, autism is a multifactorial disease with strong genetic roots and it is highly unlikely that treatment of vitamin D deficiency in all autistic children will result in similar improvements. Finally, Dr. Cannell did not examine this child, and is relying on the child's mother to report his condition and his apparent response to vitamin D treatment. However, the mother agreed to speak with the press about her son and allow for independent confirmation of the apparent treatment response.

Dr. Cannell also reminds readers that the main value of case reports is to stimulate further research. He called upon Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, to see that additional needed reasearch is done in a timely manner.

To view this month's Vitamin D Council newsletter, visit

This press release distribution is made possible by Lifespan Nutrition.

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Lucy Sardi
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