We’ve seen a lot of links between autism and toxins like heavy metals and pesticides. And maybe that makes sense. Toxins are substances that shouldn’t be in our body to begin with. Of course, they’d have negative effects, but would you have thought that there could be a link between autism and vitamin D?
Autism and Vitamin D
Let’s clarify one thing right now: Vitamin D isn’t the cause of autism. However, vitamin D deficiency could be. A recent study discovered that pregnant women who had vitamin D deficiency 20 weeks into their pregnancy had a higher chance of giving birth to children who displayed autistic traits by age 6. (1)
Autism and autism spectrum disorder are developmental disorders that are characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication. In the past, it was believed that autism was a hereditary condition caused by unfavorable genes. The idea of toxins as the root cause of autism is now a more accepted explanation. But how about a lack of vitamin D in the mother? How could that be related to autism?
Vitamin D may be best known for the role it plays in bone health. But vitamin D also plays a huge role in brain development. More specifically, vitamin D is responsible for gene activity that promotes the production of serotonin. (2)
Vitamin D Supports Healthy Brain Development
In human fetuses, serotonin--specifically the serotonin that is produced in the brain--is vital to brain development, determining the brain’s structure and wiring. If the fetal brain doesn’t have enough serotonin, it won’t develop properly. (3)
Vitamin D is the factor that determines whether or not the fetal brain produces enough serotonin. With regards to serotonin, vitamin D functions by activating the gene responsible for the production of serotonin.
Where does a fetus get the vitamin D necessary for serotonin production? - From the mother.
If the mother has low levels of vitamin D, she won’t be able to provide her child with the vitamin D, necessary for healthy brain development, potentially increasing her child’s risk for autism.
Lead Makes Matters Worse
If its role in brain development isn’t enough to convince you of the importance of vitamin D in preventing autism, consider the role that vitamin D plays in lead accumulation. Low levels of vitamin D could increase lead absorption and retention in bones. (4)
In that sense, low levels of vitamin D could favor autism twice as much. Studies have found that those with autism have more lead in their bodies than those without autism. (5) Lead only exacerbates the issues related to low vitamin D levels. Lead interferes with vitamin D metabolism, keeping vitamin D levels low and continuing the cycle of lead absorption and lowered vitamin D levels. (6)
An Autism-Free Pregnancy
When it comes to a child’s health, it’s important for the mother to ensure that her body is at good health. You’d need to check and maintain your vitamin D levels and your heavy metal burden during and before pregnancy.
The ideal way to get your vitamin D would be through adequate sun exposure, so talk to your physician about the right amount of sun exposure for you. Keep in mind that the amount of vitamin D you can make from sunlight--specifically from the sun’s UV-B rays--depends on the time of the day, the time of the year, and on other factors like altitude, latitude, cloudiness and even pollution.
If adequate sun exposure isn’t possible, talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to maintain your vitamin D levels while pregnant.
In preparation for pregnancy, however, you could use a tanning bed--one that uses electronic ballasts and not magnetic ballasts--as a way to produce your own vitamin D. You could also take a high quality vitamin D supplement like Vitamin D Synergy, which contains vitamin K2. Vitamin D increases the body’s need for vitamin K2, so it’s important to keep the two in balance. Both vitamins work together to support bone health.
If you have your vitamin D levels tested and learn that you have a deficiency, be sure to address the root cause of that deficiency as well. The root cause of a vitamin D deficiency could be digestive issues or lead toxicity. You may not be absorbing vitamin D from your food properly, or lead could be interfering with vitamin D metabolism.
If a digestive issue is to blame, you should do a digestive tract test. The digestive tract tests analyze:
●Digestion and absorption
●Gut immunology as related to allergies, inflammation, gastrointestinal disorders, etc.
●The microbiology of your gut, including any bacterial overgrowth, parasites, probiotics, and yeast
By identifying your gut’s weak spots, doctors can work with you to seal and strengthen your gut. Depending on the specific kind of support your gut needs, you may need probiotics from fermented foods or from high-quality supplements like Probiotic SynergyTM to get your gut up and running again.
Figuring out your heavy metal burden and detoxifying before becoming pregnant is also important. It is best to have this done by a medical expert.
The Detoxification process removes heavy metals by checking your heavy metal burden before and after a provocation agent is administered. After figuring out your heavy metal burden, you’ll be able to find the best way to naturally support your body’s detoxification system to get rid of lead and other heavy metals. Properly detoxifying could ensure a healthy, autism-free child.
Ensuring your health before pregnancy is key to having a healthy child. If you’re planning on getting pregnant, make sure you take all the steps necessary to give your child the best support possible, even before birth.