Nutrition, Metabolism, and Autism

Last year, researchers at Arizona State University published a study in Nutrition & Metabolism, examining the relationship between the nutritional and metabolic status of children with autism and the severity of their conditions. The researchers compared their findings with a group of healthy children of similar age and gender.

The study illustrated that children with autism have many abnormalities in their nutritional and metabolic status:

[V]ariations in the severity of autism are strongly associated with the nutritional and metabolic biomarkers investigated in this study. . . . Vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids are, by definition, essential for human life, so low levels of those critical nutrients will impair metabolic pathways and may contribute to the developmental delays which occur in autism.

The researchers concluded that both nutritional insufficiency and metabolic imbalances could play a role in how autism spectrum disorders occur, and that “increasing nutrient intake may reduce the symptoms and co-morbidities that are associated with autism.”

Dr. Mehl-Madrona.jpg
Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., Ph.D., M.Phil.
Department of Psychology, Argosy University, Honolulu, Hawaii and Department of Family Medicine, University of Hawaii School of Medicine

In support of the findings from their study, the researchers referenced a study conducted by Dr. Mehl-Madrona and colleagues measuring the benefits of EMPowerplus and psychiatric medications for children with autism.

[Our] results suggest that micronutrient therapy with vitamins and minerals would be beneficial, and that is consistent with [Dr. Mehl-Madrona’s] study, which found that micronutrient supplementation was comparable with pharmaceuticals in terms of improvements in the Childhood Autism Rating Scale, and resulted in better improvements on the Aberrant Behavior Checklist [ABC], Clinical Global Impressions, and Self-Injurious Behavior.

The graph below summarizes the effects of EMPowerplus compared with psychiatric medications, as reported in Dr. Mehl-Madrona’s study.