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Multi-Vitamin and Mineral Supplements and Autism Ranking: Insufficient/Mixed evidence

Aims and Claims

Aims

According to Bazian (2011), “People take supplements for all kinds of reasons, usually relating to their health. They hope these will boost vitality, limit the signs of ageing, extend life, cut the risk of chronic disease such as cancer and treat specific ailments such as arthritis”.

Some people think that many people on the autism spectrum have a range of nutritional and metabolic problems and that those problems can be overcome or reduced by taking dietary supplements. For example Adams et al (2011) concluded  

“The autism group had many statistically significant differences in their nutritional and metabolic status, including biomarkers indicative of vitamin insufficiency, increased oxidative stress, reduced capacity for energy transport, sulfation and detoxification. Several of the biomarker groups were significantly associated with variations in the severity of autism. These nutritional and metabolic differences are generally in agreement with other published results and are likely amenable to nutritional supplementation.”

However not all researchers agree as to whether the nutritional status of people on the autism spectrum is or is not significantly different to non-autistic people. For example, Marí-Bauset et al. (2015) conducted a review of growth and nutritional status in children on the autism spectrum and reported that

“The limited research published on growth and nutritional status has found contradictory results. Nutritional assessment has indicated limited food variety in the ASD population but has not confirmed significant differences with respect to recommended intakes or controls.”

Claims

There have been various claims made for the use of multi-vitamin/mineral supplements as an intervention for people on the autism spectrum. For example,  

  • Adams and Holloway (2004) claimed that multi-vitamin/mineral supplements delivered “… statistically significant improvements in sleep and gastrointestinal problems… “
  • Adams et al (2011) claimed that multi-vitamin/mineral supplements delivered improvements in a range of areas including hyperactivity, tantrumming, repetitive language, as well as overall behaviour. 
  • Mehl-Madrona et al (2010) claimed that multi-vitamin/mineral supplements reduced self-injurious behaviours and improved overall behaviour.    
Updated
19 Dec 2017
Last Review
01 Nov 2017
Next Review
01 Nov 2020