Zinc

Zinc

Zinc--a critical element for autism

Zinc is detrimental in the nutritional healing process of autism, ADHD or other behavioral condition.

It is known to play a vital role in neonatal development and is involved in countless metabolic and signaling pathways within the body.

One of the many critical roles of zinc is in gastrointestinal function and gut-brain interaction. There is indication in some research that zinc deficiency among mothers during pregnancy can play a role in the development of gastrointestinal functions of infants/children.

Zinc is critically important for neurotransmitter production, thyroid function and hormone balancing.

Zinc has been found to improve cognition in children with autism and ADHD as well as lessen hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Zinc has also been found to play an important role in sensory integration as well as taste and smells with food. Because of this, zinc supplementation can sometimes be very beneficial in getting extremely picky eaters to try new foods.

Having zinc and copper serum levels checked are proving to be very helpful in knowing the right amount of supplementation to acquire. Zinc and copper ratios have shown in research to be a major indicator of severity of autism.

Studies indicate that zinc and copper have a huge impact on GABA neurotransmitters as well as mercury accumulation in bodily tissues.

The highest amounts of zinc are found most abundantly in oysters, lentils, and green peas. Absorption from food is typically only about 33% in healthy adults, which makes supplementation necessary in many individuals.

Zinc supplementation is also typically necessary to pull someone out of a deficient state. The recommended daily dose is 12-15mg for healthy individuals but may need more depending on signs, symptoms and nutritional status.

Speak to your healthcare provider or Clinical Nutritionist to have a better understanding of yours or your child’s individual needs.

 

 

Shawna Kunselman, MSACN

Contact me for more information

 

 

 

References:

 

Bjourklund, G. , The role of zinc and copper in autism spectrum disorders,Acta Neurobiol Exp (Wars). 2013;73(2):225-36.,https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23823984

 Guillermo Vela, Zinc in Gut-Brain Interaction in Autism and Neurological Disorders, Neural Plasticity
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 972791, 15 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/972791

Babaknejad N, The Relationship between Zinc Levels and Autism: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis., Iran J Child Neurol. 2016 Fall;10(4):1-9.

 

 

Nutrient Deficiencies are typically the Root Cause of Behaviors. Get the list of Most Needed Supplements for Behavioral Conditions!

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sun

Vitamin D and Behaviors

Vitamin D and Autism

New research is showing that up to 75% of children on the autism spectrum show significant improvement with high dose Vitamin D supplementation.

Vitamin D levels are very often significantly lower in children with autism and ADHD.

Vitamin D has many vital roles in our body, including enhancing intestinal absorption of other critical nutrients such as Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Phosphate and Zinc. Vitamin D is also very involved with immune function and regulating the inflammatory response within the body.

Vitamin D deficiency has been proven to play a role in many conditions such as autoimmune and behavioral disorders.

Unfortunately, very few foods contain Vitamin D. It is pretty limited to Wild Caught fish (salmon), mushrooms and some shellfish as well as fortified milk. Most of our Vitamin D supply is meant to come from the sun.

Recommended intakes for infants and children vary from 400IU to 1000IU per day depending on specific needs of the child.

However, higher doses are many times warranted for certain conditions and when deficiency is known.

Serum (blood) Vitamin D levels are very important to know prior to supplementing and should be checked again after about 6 months of supplementing. Ask your doctor or healthcare provider for the 25(OH)D, also called 25-hydroxyvitamin D. According to research, ideally levels should be at least 45ng/ml.

Reports and research shows that there appears to be better cognition, focus, and eye contact in autism spectrum disorders and ADHD as vitamin D levels are normalized.

 

 

 

Mohommad, R, et.al, The Relationship between Serum Vitamin D Level and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Iran J Child Neurol. 2015 Autumn; 9(4): 48–53.
Cannell, J, Vitamin D and Autism, What’s New? Rev Endocr Metab Disord. 2017 Feb 20.

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probiotics for optimal health

Probiotics

Probiotics for Autism, Autoimmune and More

Probiotics (good, healthy bacteria needed for gut and digestive health) are being recognized for helping in many conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), depression, anxiety, autism, ADHD, and many autoimmune conditions.

 

Front and center, gut health plays an important role in overall health and immune function. And now researchers are realizing that gut health is very important for brain health and function as well.

 

It is known that 70-80% of our immune system lies within the digestive tract, and up to 90% of serotonin levels are produced there. Serotonin is the “feel-good” neurotransmitter which is derived from tryptophan and Vitamin B6 is also needed to produce this. Serotonin is what most medications for depression, ADHD and anxiety work on. So keeping our gut health as healthy as possible is crucial to keep this neurotransmitter producing!

 

Many kids on the autism spectrum have problems related to gut health ranging from acid reflux, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal bloating and pain. These physical symptoms are another area in which probiotics have been found to be very beneficial.
Many of these kids also have immunologic and metabolic problems which effect their behaviors and emotional health.

 

Taking care of some of these underlying issues can many times lead to improvements in behaviors and symptoms associated with autism, ADHD and sensory conditions.

In a small study published in Nature medical journal, results showed that when infants were given a specific strain of probiotic (lactobacillus rhamnosus strain), there were zero cases of autism and ADHD, whereas, in the placebo group, 17.1 percent had developed autism or ADHD.

 
Refer to the list of additional references below which show connection between autism, ADHD and probiotic need.
Additionally, probiotics and the gut microbiome (balance of good/bad bacteria) have been found to play a role in allergies and specifically food allergies. One particular study looked at lactobacillus rhamnosus  given to children with a positive IgE (skin prick allergy test) to peanuts. There was an 82% reversal of the peanut allergy from continued use of this probiotic (tested under close medical supervision). Digestive health matters!

 

There is even new implication in regards to gut health and childhood Type 1 diabetes and indication that new treatments for this condition may lie within gut function and probiotics.

 
Every one’s probiotic needs and dosages are different; feel free to contact me with any questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References:

  • Custom Probiotics, Autism and Probiotics, http://www.customprobiotics.com/autism.htm
  • The Gut:  Our Second Brain, Documentary, Amazon Video, 2016
  • Wu H-J, Wu E. The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity. Gut Microbes. 2012;3(1):4-14. doi:10.4161/gmic.19320.
  • Grossi, E., et. al,Unexpected improvement in core autism spectrum disorder symptoms after long-term treatment with probiotics, SAGE Open Med Case Rep. 2016 Aug 26;4:2050313X16666231., March 2017
  • Navarro, F. Can Probiotics benefit children with autism spectrum disorders?, World J Gastroenterol. 2016 Dec 14;22(46):10093-10102. March, 2017
  • Partty, A,a possible link between early probiotic intervention and the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders later in childhood: a randomized trial, Nature, Vol 7:6, June 2015
  • Mimi, LK, Administration of a probiotic with peanut oral immunotherapy: A randomized trial, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Vol 135:3. pg, 737-744, March 2015
  • Gareau, MG, Cognitive Function and the Microbiome, Int Rev Neurobiol. 2016;131:227-246, March, 2017
  • Aleksandar, D.,The Dynamics of the Human Infant Gut Microbiome in Development and in Progression toward Type 1 Diabetes, Cell Host & Microbe, Vol. 20, Issue 1, p121

 

 

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Methyl B12

Methyl B12 for Autism

Many of those on the autism spectrum and with ADHD have been found to be lacking in Methyl B12 when evaluated through lab work.

Methylcobalamin (Methyl) B12 is an active form of B12 that supports metabolism and is needed for almost every cell in our body. It is critical for the function of the nervous system, gastrointestinal system and several biochemical pathways.

Methyl B12 also works as a cofactor, or coenzyme, and is needed to activate the methionine/homocysteine biochemical pathway.

Methyl B12 is also responsible for the formation of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe), the universal methyl donor from homocysteine. Too much homocysteine in the blood has been shown to have an impact on many inflammatory conditions such autism, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

This formation of SAMe is also critical for the formation of glutathione which is the body’s primary antioxidant and is responsible for many detoxification reactions including the removal of heavy metals and other toxins from our body.

So to sum it up, if this biochemical pathway is dysfunctional, detoxification becomes impaired. Toxins build up and wreak havoc on the neurological functioning of children.

Additionally, if the gastrointestinal system is not properly functioning, it is very hard for the body to breakdown and absorb B12 properly. For this reason, sublingual B12 or B12 injections may be more effective.

Methyl B12 is water soluble, meaning your body will dispose of excess B12 through urine.

While Methyl B12 has been shown to be very effective, it should be used in addition to other protocols such as dietary factors and additional vitamin supplementation.

Clinical trials have shown Methyl B12 injections to be effective in improving many autism symptoms including improvements in speech and language, socialization and improved sleep. B12 injections seem to be more effective than other forms of B12, however, sublingual is the next best form. 50 mcg of Methyl B12 is a good dose to start with for children on the autism spectrum.

 

 

Feel free to contact me with any questions.

 

 

References:

Zhang, Y., et.al, Decreased Brain Levels of Vitamin B12 in Aging, Autism and Schizophrenia., PLoS One. 2016 Jan 22;11(1):e0146797, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26799654
Hendren, RL, et.al., Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Methyl B12 for Children with Autism., J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2016 Nov;26(9):774-783 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26889605
Autism Doctor, B12 for treatment of Autism, http://www.theautismdoctor.com/vitamin-b12-for-the-treatment-of-autism/

oranges, healthy eating, autism

How Diet Change Helped My Son’s Autism

When my son first started showing signs of autism, I was determined to give it my all and find out how to help him.

I was so excited to have this little guy; I followed every guideline to a “T” and I watched all of his milestones so carefully.  All of his developmental milestones were met on time or even early. He crawled at 6 months, walked at 12 months, played ball, laughed, smiled, had eye contact and said first words, “mama”, “dada”, “ball”.

At 18 months he stopped saying new words and quit saying the few words he had been saying. At this time, he also started showing obsessive compulsive tendencies with lining his cars up. He would get down on the floor and study the wheels. The wheels of the car had to be perfectly aligned with the edge of the carpet.

He was no longer interested in play and only wanted to walk up and down stairs…nonstop. He would go up and down, up and down with no interest in anything else around him. He would stare at his cars for hours, open and close all the doors in the house numerous times, turn door knobs repeatedly, and stare at door hinges while inspecting exactly the way they were working.

He became obsessed with specific objects, such as a placemat and a cup he drank from. They had to be placed just right and he would stare at them without distraction incessantly. Some doors in our house had to be open and others had to be closed; the sunroof in the car had to be just as he wanted it or he would scream the whole way home.

He would have severe laughing fits followed by screaming and crying. Additionally, he was very sensitive to sounds and bright lights. Crowded stores would cause high anxiety for him and he would cover his ears any time we were driving down the highway. The sound of blenders and vacuum cleaners would sending him into screaming tantrums.

His OCD and meltdowns completely ruled our life for a while--the places we could go was very limited due to his behaviors. He had no interest in other kids and did not want to play.

I became concerned of him having autism and began to research. My research kept leading me to gluten free/casein free diets as a way to improve symptoms associated with this disorder. My initial reaction was, “oh he could never do that! That’s all he eats! Macaroni and cheese, pizza, breakfast cereal and grilled cheese.”

However, after many months of researching, I continued to be led to this same idea and I felt this was exactly the way to go. After all, what could it hurt? Maybe we would see some benefit and even get a little healthier in the process.

By this time, he had been diagnosed with multiple ear infections, viruses, colds and stomach bugs. My son seemed to be sick...all. the. time. He had even landed in the hospital from dehydration due to severe stomach virus and double ear infection at the same time.

He was very behind in language development as well as gross and fine motor skills by this point.

We found a few highly recommended integrative medicine doctors and clinical nutritionists and we began our journey of healing. We learned what was occurring on a biochemical basis to cause certain behaviors and make him not be able to effectively communicate with us.

We had our son tested for food allergies, food sensitivities, bacteria, yeast, viruses, and even parasites. He tested intolerances to gluten, dairy, eggs, and citrus. The gluten and casein were reacting like drugs in his body which is why that was the only thing he would eat. His gut was low in good bacteria, and high in bad bacteria and yeast. He tested low in several critical nutrients such as B12, Vitamin E, and Chromium--all very important in neurological function. The bacteria, yeast and food intolerances were preventing him from absorbing important nutrients and due to his very self-limiting diet, he was not getting adequate nutrients from foods.

The diet change began very simple. We substituted all of his favorite things with gluten free versions. Within three days he was trying new foods! We were able to progress the diet from there, eventually getting to a whole foods diet with even vegetables.

Once we started addressing these underlying issues, we started seeing much improvement in his ability to focus and concentrate and even started to hear new words from him. His ability to focus helped him learn new skills from his therapies. Within a few months, his OCD was greatly improved and his screaming tantrums had significantly decreased. His daily anxiety levels were dramatically reduced and our happy, playful boy was returning to us. We continued improving his diet over the years and we added supplements needed based on blood work for nutritional deficiencies.

Today, my son is 11 years old and he no longer has obsessive compulsive behaviors. His once very uncontrollable anxiety is now very well managed. He has excellent gross and fine motor skills, imaginative play and is very social. He is in a mainstream classroom and has several friends. I wasn’t sure at one time if I would ever hear him say “mama” again, or hear him say “I love you”. It was very hard to foresee any type of conversation with him. Now, we have full conversations and he is curious about everything. It is often sometimes challenging to get him to STOP talking, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The more I continued to research, the more interested I became in the biochemistry of our bodies and the impact they have to heal themselves in so many ways. There are many chronic conditions on the rise; it is not just autism.

Genetic components mixed with environmental triggers make for a very chaotic cascade of  health conditions. While this is not about "treating" autism, it is about making the child healthier.

Many times, a child's "autism-like" behavior can result from specific medical issues, food sensitivities or nutrient depletion. Once treating these specific issues, the child is healthier and feels better which results in better behaviors and communication.

donuts, gluten

What Are Food Sensitivities & How Do They Contribute To Children’s Behaviors?

Most people are very aware of the effects of common food allergies. People may suffer from hives, difficulty breathing, sneezing, runny nose, or itching.

Very commonly overlooked, however, are food sensitivities (commonly referred to as “hidden food allergies”) which can contribute to many different health conditions as well.

If someone has a sensitivity to a specific food, an IgG (Immunoglobulin G) response occurs in the body. This is different from the IgE response which occurs in an “allergy”. The IgE response activates an immediate release of histamine. However, with the IgG immune response there is still a reaction happening which activates cytokines (immune response chemicals) in the body, though this is very commonly a delayed response and does not have the antigen-antibody response that the IgE reaction does.

This response can happen hours or even up to 7 days later. These cytokines can inflame the gut, the brain, or even respiratory tract and can affect how you or your child feels emotionally and physically.

Some common symptoms seen with the effects of food sensitivities in children are:

• Inconsistent performance: he or she will know the material one day but not the next.
• Poor memory
• Struggles with focusing and attention.
• Sensory processing problems: things such as noises, tags, foods, and transitions bother this child
• Irritability
• Hyperactivity
• Frequent meltdowns

Additionally, the child may have frequent infections, constant allergies, or digestive issues.
The best way to determine if someone has a food sensitivity is by an elimination diet, which consists of eliminating the foods which are most commonly contributors. A typical elimination diet lasts approximately 3 weeks in which the foods are slowly added back in to see if a reaction occurs.

Specific blood work can also be looked at to determine an IgG response to foods.

The most common food contributors to causing a food sensitivity in the body are:

• Dairy
• Eggs
• Gluten – Protein in Wheat, Rye, Oats and Barley
• Sugar (Especially if your child has candida, a yeast overgrowth which can effect behavior, common in children with neurobehavioral disorders like ADHD and Autism.)
• Shellfish
• Soy
• Food Dyes, Preservatives, Pesticides, GMO’s (Genetically Modified Foods)

 

Contact  me with any questions or for more information.

 

 

 

References:
Lord, Richard, Bralley, J., Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicines, 2nd edition, Metametrix Institute, 2012, pgs. 433-436

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What about Medications for Autism & ADHD?

Aren’t they effective and helpful?

 

For this article I want to focus on medication for ADHD. Ritalin and Adderall are the two most common medications prescribed for ADHD. While they may be effective at controlling unwarranted behaviors and improving concentration, there are many side effects that come along with it. Now, I am not saying there is never a time and a place for these medications. I just want people to be aware of the side effects and know that in many times, there are other options. Here, I want to focus on Ritalin (methylphenidate).

 

Introduction of Ritalin:

  • One of the most common central nervous system stimulants prescribed in children over age of 6
  • Schedule II Narcotic
    • Same classification as morphine, methamphetamines and codeine
      • High potential for abuse
      • S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reports that studies show that Ritalin is more potent than cocaine and effects the brain in the same way as cocaine does
    • Stimulants are most common treatment of ADHD and are also being used as a treatment for narcolepsy
    • According to the National Center for Health Statistics Data Brief no. 42, from 2007 – 2008, “The most commonly used types of prescription drugs in the United States by age were: ….central nervous system stimulants for adolescents aged 12–19.”
    • The prevalence of children 4-17 years of age taking ADHD medication increased from 4.8% in 2007 to 6.1% in 2011
    • More than 17 million children worldwide prescribed psychiatric medicines

 

How does Ritalin work?

  • Ritalin increases dopamine levels in the brain
  • Dopamine is a neurotransmitter which plays a critical role in moods, behaviors and motivation
  • Ritalin blocks a protein responsible for transporting dopamine
  • Affects chemicals and nerves which contribute to hyperactivity and impulse control
  • “Methylphenidate blocks dopamine uptake in central adrenergic neurons by blocking dopamine transport or carrier proteins. Methylphenidate acts at the brain stem arousal system and the cerebral cortex and causes increased sympathomimetic activity in the central nervous system. Alteration of serotonergic pathways via changes in dopamine transport may result.”
  • It is believed that those with ADHD may have more of these dopamine transporters than others.

 

Warnings and Adverse Reactions:

  • Can cause “sudden death” in susceptible individuals
    • Typically has been seen due to cardiovascular effects
  • Can lead to dependency and addiction
    • As a result of dopamine mechanisms
    • May cause visual hallucinations, suicidal thoughts and psychotic behaviors
      • Also due to the effects on dopamine

 

Ritalin as a Recreational Drug:

  • DEA has received reports of college students using Ritalin to help them study for all-night study sessions
  • Many also admittedly use Ritalin as a “party drug”
  • One survey of students at a public liberal arts college found that “over 50% of survey participants knew other students who had used Ritalin for fun, 16% had used it themselves, and nearly 13% reported their own use included snorting the drug.”
  • Chronic heavy use can lead to physical dependence-- withdrawal symptoms include exhaustion and severe emotional depression
  • Ritalin’s dependence can cause cravings for the drug and panic if it becomes unavailable

 

Nutrients Depleted from Ritalin use and Symptoms Associated:

ritalin-depletion

 

 

  • “Some children are at risk of serious growth decrement when treated with MPH” (methylphenidate/Ritalin)
  • Nutrient intake and growth of children taking methylphenidate should be monitored very closely
  • Calcium/Magnesium ratio significantly lower after 3 weeks of treatment with methylphenidate
  • “the decrease in the ratio may be relevant to side effects and treatment resistance associated with stimulant use.”
  • Significantly depletes dopamine and causes cell death in olfactory bulb
    • Olfactory bulb is part of the limbic system and is involved in motivation, emotions and memory
    • May be related to the depressive symptoms associated with amphetamine withdrawal

 

Caffeine can enhance side effects of Ritalin so it is recommended to limit caffeine to small quantities

Alcohol should be avoided as it may increase nervous system side effects such as drowsiness, anxiety, depression, and seizures

  • When Alcohol is combined with methylphenidate, a metabolite known as ethylphenidate is produced, which can be fatal in some individuals.

 

There are many natural alternatives to treating ADHD which also improve optimal health status. Looking for specific food intolerance’s and micronutrient deficiencies is especially helpful. Other improvements can be seen with:

Studies have shown significant reduction in ADHD symptoms and overall health by optimizing diet and lifestyle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amphetamines.com, Facts and Statistics on Amphetamine Abuse, http://amphetamines.com/facts/facts-and-statistics-on-amphetamine-abuse/ Accessed December 2, 2015
 Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), http://www.dea.gov/druginfo/ds.shtml Accessed December 2, 2015
 Drug-Induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook, by Ross Pelton, R.PH., PH.D; James B. LaValle, R.Ph., N.D.; and Ernest B. Hawkins, R.Ph., M.S. (Lexi-Comp, 2001]
Atianjoh, Fidelis E. et al. 'Amphetamine Causes Dopamine Depletion And Cell Death In The Mouse Olfactory Bulb'. European Journal of Pharmacology 589.1-3 (2008): 94-97. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.
Schmidt, ME., et.al, Effect of dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate on calcium and magnesium concentration in hyperactive boys., Psychiatry Res. 1994 Nov;54(2):199-210
Garfinkel BD, et al. 'Individual Responses To Methylphenidate And Caffeine In Children With Minimal Brain Dysfunction, Canadian Medical Assoc Journal. - Pubmed - NCBI'. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.
Krueger J, et al. 'First Detection Of Ethylphenidate In Human Fatalities After Ethylphenidate Intake., Forensic Science Int. - Pubmed - NCBI'. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2015. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.
Zhu, Hao-Jie, Kennerly S. Patrick, and John S. Markowitz. 'Enantiospecific Determination Of Dl-Methylphenidate And Dl-Ethylphenidate In Plasma By Liquid Chromatography–Tandem Mass Spectrometry: Application To Human Ethanol Interactions'. Journal of Chromatography B 879.11-12 (2011): 783-788. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.
Dolina, S. et al. 'Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) As A Pyridoxine-Dependent Condition: Urinary Diagnostic Biomarkers'. Medical Hypotheses 82.1 (2014): 111-116. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.
B L Hungund, B G Winsberg. 'Pharmacokinetics Of Methylphenidate In Hyperkinetic Children.'. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 8.6 (1979): 571. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.
DrugBank, Methylphenidate, http://www.drugbank.ca/drugs/DB00422
Neuropsychopharmacology, ADHD and attention networks, (Image), http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v35/n1/fig_tab/npp2009120f2.html#figure-title
Center for Substance Abuse Research, Ritalin, http://www.cesar.umd.edu/cesar/drugs/ritalin.asp Accessed December 2, 2015
Holtkamp, K., et.al, Methylphenidate-related growth impairment, J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2002 Spring;12(1):55-61.
Schmidt, ME., et.al, Effect of dextroamphetamine and methylphenidate on calcium and magnesium concentration in hyperactive boys., Psychiatry Res. 1994 Nov;54(2):199-210
Atianjoh, Fidelis E. et al. 'Amphetamine Causes Dopamine Depletion And Cell Death In The Mouse Olfactory Bulb'. European Journal of Pharmacology 589.1-3 (2008): 94-97. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.

 

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