Tuesday, April 01, 2014

D3 effects may stop autism AND depression....

Today's Post:  Tuesday, 4-1-2014

Autism is a complex condition that likely has several causes.

Depression definitely has several causes.

But there is some evidence that both share a low level of serotonin in the brain. 

And, some of the damage that seems to be involved to parts of the brain in autism might be an autoimmune effect.

A new study shows that getting enough vitamin D3 helps stop BOTH of those problems.

The drugs to boost serotonin for depression, seem to have little or even no effect possibly because they cause blood changes in serotonin levels but don’t do much inside the brain where the depression is located.

So, when I found this study, I was extremely encouraged.

Simply put, it found that if blood levels of vitamin D3 were below the optimum of 50 or more, the blood level of serotonin was low even if the blood level was high!  And, the level of regulatory T cells that limit autoimmune responses was also low.

Looks like that well may mean that ensuring that pregnant and nursing mothers and younger children have enough vitamin D3 that their blood level is high enough will make autism far less likely or will help reverse it. 

(The evidence is clear that taking 3,000 to 5,000 iu a day of vitamin D3 does the job in most cases and that megadoses of vitamin D2 are far less desirable or effective in adults.)

Here’s some of the article I found in the Medical News Today: (The link to the whole article follows.

Then I add my own comments at the end.)

Causal link indicated between vitamin D, serotonin synthesis and autism   Friday 28 February 2014 - 1am PST

A new study by Rhonda Patrick, PhD and Bruce Ames, PhD of Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) demonstrates the impact that Vitamin D may have on social behavior associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Dr. Patrick and Dr. Ames show that serotonin, oxytocin, and vasopressin, three brain hormones that affect social behavior, are all activated by vitamin D hormone. 

Autism, which is characterized by abnormal social behavior, has previously been linked to low levels of serotonin in the brain and to low vitamin D levels, but no mechanism has linked the two until now.

In this study, Dr. Patrick and Dr. Ames show that vitamin D hormone activates the gene that makes the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (TPH2), that converts the essential amino acid tryptophan, to serotonin in the brain. This suggests that adequate levels of vitamin D may be required to produce serotonin in the brain where it shapes the structure and wiring of the brain, acts as a neurotransmitter, and affects social behavior.

They also found evidence that the gene that makes the enzyme tryptophan hydroxylase 1 (TPH1) is inhibited by vitamin D hormone, which subsequently halts the production of serotonin in the gut and other tissues, where when found in excess it promotes inflammation.

This mechanism explains many of the known, but previously not understood, facts about autism including: 1) the "serotonin anomaly" low levels of serotonin in the brain and high levels in the blood of autistic children; 2) the preponderance of male over female autistic children: estrogen, a similar steroid hormone, can also boost the brain levels of serotonin in girls;

3) the presence of autoimmune antibodies to the fetal brain in the mothers of autistic children: vitamin D regulates the production of regulatory T-cells via repression of TPH1. The Patrick/Ames mechanism is relevant to the prevention of autism, and likely its treatment.

The current guidelines for adequate vitamin D levels are concentrations above 30 ng/ml. Most Americans' vitamin D is made in the skin from exposure to UVB radiation; however, melanin pigment and sunscreen inhibit this action. This is an important cause of the well-known widespread vitamin D deficiency among dark-pigmented Americans, particularly those living in Northern latitudes.

The most recent National Health and Examination survey reports that greater than 70% of U.S. population does not meet this requirement and that adequate vitamin D levels have plummeted over the last couple of decades. This precipitous drop in adequate levels of vitamin D in the US is concurrent with the rise in autism rates. 

The study suggests dietary intervention with vitamin D, tryptophan and omega 3 fatty acids would boost brain serotonin concentrations and help prevent and possibly ameliorate some of the symptoms associated with ASD without side effects.

There is little vitamin D present in food and fortification is still inadequate as is the amount in most multivitamin and prenatal supplements. Vitamin D supplements are inexpensive and offer a simple solution to raise vitamin D levels to an adequate status. In addition, vitamin D levels should be routinely measured in everyone and should become a standard procedure in prenatal care.

Causal link indicated between vitamin D, serotonin synthesis and autism
A new study by Rhonda Patrick, PhD and Bruce Ames, PhD of Children's Hospital 
Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) demonstrates the impact that Vitamin D may 
have on social behavior associated...

A.  Autism:

1.  ALL pregnant women should get tested for blood levels of vitamin D3 and given 3,000 to 5,000 iu a day if it's in the 30 to 50 range and at least 5,000 and maybe 10,000 iu day if it's 20 to 30 and 10,000 a day for a month at least if it's below 20.

2.  Children showing signs of autism should be given enough D3 to get their blood levels to at least 50.

3.  Both pregnant women -- and children showing signs of autism, should take the omega 3 DHA. This has already been shown to boost the IQ and mental skills of children when this is done.  AND, DHA is separately shown to facilitate new nerve and brain cell growth AND to do so when repairs or restoration is needed.

B.  Depression should be treated in the exact same way.

Depression has enough other causes it may well need solutions for those causes also which range from bad self talk to brain damage from injuries.

But increasing these neurotransmitters to normal with vitamin D3 and taking the DHA to help repair some brain damage may each help stop depression, particularly if exercise is added because the combination of enough DHA with exercise has been shown to release the nerve and brain cell growth hormone BDNF.

IF this set of things helps, taking the drugs designed to boost serotonin is not needed.

IF this set of things does NOT help, the drugs likely won't either unless brain levels of serotonin are still low which is quite unlikely.

AND, if vitamin D3 does not help particularly when combined with exercise and DHA, this is an indicator that brain damage or horribly bad self talk or very high stress or sleep deprivation or lack of enough daylight or comparable bright lights or social connections is likely also present and needs separate treatment. 

Part II.

a) Other information on autism that may prove to be helpful:

One mother found information that suggested to her that MSG might contribute to autism or to it continuing according to a recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle.

She found that due to very incomplete labeling laws for MSG and its near universal use in fast food restaurants that removing it from her child’s diet was a considerable challenge.

(As we’ve posted often before MSG is often indicated by the ingredient listings, “spices” and “natural spices.”  Finding condiments without either is very difficult to impossible in most stores.  Whole Foods Markets and Annie’s Naturals are the two sources I’ve found that do NOT have those labels on all their condiments!)

Did her efforts work?

They did seem to work very well on her child which made the news article of considerable interest!

MSG is an excitoxin that may also cause brain damage, definitely fattens, and appears when used for many years to damage the thyroid.

MSG is also a totally unneeded source of excess sodium.  And excess sodium that’s too high helps cause blood vessel damage, gout, high blood pressure, and heart disease!

So, keeping MSG out of your food is important too!

For autism though, note that to avoid MSG, you have to avoid the foods that contain it which have many other health harmful ingredients.  So it may be the avoidance of ALL those harmful ingredients in addition to avoiding MSG that reverses autism.

Organic vegetables, organic fruits, organic tree nuts with no salt or oils added, extra virgin olive oil, wild caught fish, and eggs from hens fed their natural diet on unpolluted pasture ALL have ZERO MSG.

But they have no hybrid, GMO, wheat or gluten or GMO soy or corn or soy or corn or canola oils either!

They also only have the salt you add to them. You can use sea salt and other spices instead of eating the hidden salt in the avoided foods in much large quantities.

Packaged snacks, fast food, packaged desserts, most commercial baked goods, and most packaged dinners all have all these ingredients and many have MSG too.

So, keeping it out of what your child eats IS likely a good idea!   NOT having the MSG may well help.  But NOT having the MSG nor any of those other things either may be quite effective.

Note that autism is in part an autoimmune disease; and that we posted recently about a woman with MS, an autoimmune disease also, reversed her disease with a very similar diet.

b) Other things besides vitamin D3 that may be needed and have been shown to help for depression are:

If vitamin D3 does not help particularly when combined with exercise and DHA, this is an indicator that brain damage or horribly bad self talk or very high stress or sleep deprivation or lack of enough daylight or comparable bright lights or social connections is likely also present and needs separate treatment. 

1  Bad self talk has been found to cause people to assume bad events with specific and limited causes will always happen when the facts are otherwise.  They then are sad because of what they incorrectly predict.  Good talk therapists can help people stop doing this and substitute more reality based self talk and checking assumptions.

Bad self talk also focuses on how things might go wrong if you try to solve your problems.  The part of that which is prudent and helps you avoid below the water line actions you should keep!  You don’t stay optimistic if you ignore that part.

But the majority of your thinking about problems should be what might go right that can be tried and how to leverage your strengths and assets to make the ones that test as working solve your problems.  The combination of sound prudence with leveraging strengths and assets and looking for and testing good solutions, stops depression in many cases.  NOT doing it leaves problems unsolved which can make depression continue.

2 Sleep deprivation and/or deprivation of sunlight or bright light in the morning can lower your neurotransmitters enough to cause or continue depression. 

Make time to get at least 6 hours of sleep and as close to the same hours each night as you can.  (STOP watching TV shows that prevent this; and do at least a few minutes of some kind of vigorous exercise first thing every morning.)
If you notice you get depressed in dark, rainy, gloomy looking weather during the day, this may be a physical effect!

Take the 3,000 to 5,000 iu a day of vitamin D3 if you aren’t already.  Get a 10 to 20 minute walk outside near Noon if it’s safe on most days.  Oddly it may still LOOK gloomy; but light meters show if there is daylight at all, there is far more light than it looks like there is. And, if you still have this effect, get a commercial light box and use it every morning.  The light boxes deliver astoundingly good results in just the first few weeks of use in many people!

Nature Bright is the one I’ve seen the most good reviews of and positive reports by users.

See this link for another person’s review:

Lastly, it is likely expensive in addition to the doctor visit to get one; but Fisher-Wallace also makes an electronic brain stimulation device that has been tested to help depression.

3 People who socialize regularly and do it in a way that they are nice to the other people and usually enjoy being with them, have a massive lever against being or staying depressed.

People who lack this kind of connection often get depressed or feel lonely which tends to cause depression and they are hit much harder by stressful events.

If you are depressed and can find positive people who write and read their works that helps.

If you join any kind of positive group and go regularly and get to know the people you see there and do it at least two or three times a month for several months, that will also help.

Sometimes it can really help to have a good counselor to enable you to develop better social skills and thinking optimistically towards people.  That will then make the socializing you do easier, more enjoyable, and more effective at stopping depression.

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