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Vitamin A: Essential for Gut Health and Autism

Updated: Nov 11, 2020

The incidence of autism keeps rising in the United States. In 2000, the prevalence of autism was 1 in 150; in 2014 increased to 1 in 59, and now it is 1 in 40 (1). Autism is diagnosed using solely behavioral criteria without considering the biological processes that increase symptoms of autism like inflammation, mitochondrial, and gastrointestinal dysfunction. Multiple nutrient deficiencies are an important factor that drives inflammation, mitochondria, and gut issues.

Vitamin A continues to be a crucial deficiency in children with autism. Vitamin A is essential for gastrointestinal health and mitochondria function.

Vitamin A deficiency:

*Increases symptoms of autism

*Increases gastrointestinal dysfunction in children with autism (2).

*Decreases immune function.

*Increases susceptibility to infections.

What can you do?

*Increase intake of organic fruits and vegetables with healthy smoothies.

*Vitamin A can be obtained from eggs, carrots, spinach, sweet potato, kale, and liver.

*Cod liver oil can be a good source of vitamin A.

What can I learn from this topic?

*Symptoms of autism can be increased by nutrient deficiencies.

*Nutrition can be a crucial factor for improvements in autism.

*A functional integrative approach that includes nutrition, behavior analysis, and other therapies should promote optimal results for children with autism.

"Eating unhealthy foods is not a reward

--it is a punishment."

Drew Carey

Without a doubt, a healthy diet can decrease inflammation and will benefit children on the spectrum. Take charge of autism with nutrition.

There is Hope for Autism!

David Rivas, RPh, MSc, CCN

Pharmacist and Clinical Nutritionist


(1): McGuinness, G., & Kim, Y. (2020). Sulforaphane treatment for autism spectrum disorder: A systematic review. EXCLI Journal, 19, 892.

(2): Cheng, B., Zhu, J., Yang, T., Guo, M., Lai, X., Li, Q., ... & Li, T. (2020). Vitamin A deficiency increases the risk of gastrointestinal comorbidity and exacerbates core symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorder. Pediatric Research, 1-6.

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