The effects of dietary supplementation on nutrient status in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
A recently published article assessing the effects of dietary supplementation on nutrient status in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) highlights some important considerations when supplementing with a multivitamin and mineral (MVM) supplement. One of the conclusions of the study was that even when a child takes a MVM some deficiencies were not corrected, such as calcium and vitamin D, whilst other vitamins and minerals may lead to levels above the Upper Limit, such as folate, copper and vitamin A. This was particularly true when a child is on a gluten-free and casein-free (GFCF) diet, owing to the fact that these children are more likely to take a MVM.
Some of the recommendations of the study (http://www.andjrnl.org/article/S2212-2672(15)00390-1/abstract), primarily aimed at dieticians and nutritionists, were that multivitamins should not be universally prescribed in children with restricted eating patterns, and that Vitamin D and calcium levels are often low even with a MVM. The author of the study commented that it is important for children with ASD to receive individual assessment for “potential nutritional deficiencies or excess and that when supplements are used careful attention should be given."
Although this research has led to some valuable conclusions and considerations there were a number of other points the authors did not mention.
Due to the common occurrence of limitations in the variety of foods a child with ASD may eat, deficiencies as well as possible excesses in selective nutrients (especially if the preferred food is high in a particular nutrient or artificially fortified) may arise. Research has previously shown that some synthetic nutrients in fortified foods (and some supplement brands) are not so well assimilated and processed by the human body, therefore, possibly acting as a burden rather than a help to address deficiencies.
When choosing a supplement we would recommend visiting your local health food shop for advice rather than using supermarket own brands - often these can have unsubstantial levels of the particular nutrient and use synthetic ingredients rather than natural ones.
At the Brain Bio Centre we can assess every client for their specific nutritional needs and create a supplement and/or nutrition programme supporting any deficiencies and imbalances. For more information on this please visit www.brainbiocentre.com or call 020 8322 9600.
18th June 2015
Omega-3 and B vitamins arrest Alzheimer’s brain shrinkage
There is no cure for Alzheimer’s. Brain shrinkage, the hallmark of Alzheimer’s, starts for many from the age of 50. But can it be prevented? Researchers at Oxford University gave 168 people over 70 with the first signs of memory loss either high dose B vitamins or dummy pills and monitored shrinkage with advanced brain scans over a two year period.
They found that those taking the extra B vitamins who started with high omega-3 levels in their blood had 70% less brain shrinkage, reaching about the same degree of shrinkage as is normally found in healthy elderly people with no memory decline. The results were reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition this week (Jerneren et al.)
The least brain shrinkage in those treated with B vitamins occurred in those with both high omega-3 blood levels, an essential fat found in oily fish, and high blood levels of homocysteine at the start of the study, indicating a poor B vitamin status, especially B12. About half of people 65+ have raised blood homocysteine levels, indicating that older people need to be supplementing B vitamins. A third of the people in this study, from the Oxford area, had low levels of omega-3 and no beneficial effect from the B vitamins. It was the combination of omega-3 and B vitamins that made the difference.
This study suggests that at least one third of the British population could significantly reduce their risk of developing Alzheimer’s simply by taking in enough omega-3 fats and supplementing B vitamins.
“This is a very encouraging result.” said Professor David Smith from Oxford University who research group led the study “It means that something so simple as keeping your omega-3 levels high and supplementing B vitamins if you are at risk (with a high homocysteine level) could dramatically reduce a person’s risk. We should be screening people for the early signs of cognitive impairment and then testing their homocysteine and omega-3 status.”
In Sweden people over age 60 in memory clinics are routinely screened for homocysteine, in much the way GPs screen for cholesterol in the UK. Those with high levels are prescribed B vitamins.
“This study adds to a growing body of evidence that Alzheimer’s is largely a preventable disease. At least half the risk for Alzheimer’s is preventable, while only 1% of cases are caused by genes. We should be educating people about prevention steps and screening early for the first signs of cognitive changes.” says nutritionist Patrick Holford, from the UK’s charitable Food for the Brain Foundation which has campaigned for Alzheimer’s prevention to be taken seriously. “Less than 0.1% of UK dementia research funding is spent on prevention. It should be 50%.”
Food for the Brain offers a free Cognitive Function Test online at www.foodforthebrain.org. Two hundred thousand people have now taken the test, which not only gives the earliest indication of your memory status but tells you what to do about it. Increasing omegas from fish, nuts and seeds and testing for homocysteine, and supplementing B vitamins if needed, are two of six prevention steps. Others include eating more fruit and veg, keeping fit and socially active. The best foods for omega-3 are oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and sardines, walnuts, chia and flax seeds.
The charity hopes to reach a million people, and have just launched an educational video called ‘Alzheimer’s prevention is better than drugs’ (see below) to encourage those at risk to take positive steps to prevent this terrible disease.
20th April 2015
Find out why Alzheimer's prevention is better than drugs
16th April 2015
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