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Could vitamin D deficiencies in children increase their risk for autism?

With autism diagnosis rates growing, researchers have been working tirelessly to deduce both the causes of and possible treatments for the condition. But could something as simple as vitamin D be partly responsible?

As unbelievable as it sounds, the link between autism and vitamin D has been the focus of several recent studies, which are finding increasing amounts of evidence that insufficient levels of this nutrient may play a role in whether a child will wind up on the spectrum. 

"A growing body of literature suggests that higher [vitamin D] concentrations, either in utero or in early life, may reduce the risk of autism," according to one study abstract. "[Vitamin D] concentrations may reduce the symptoms of established autism […] [and] might also reduce the risk or severity of autism." 

A separate study also determined that the association between solar ultraviolet B (UVB) and the spread of autism is not dissimilar from many cancer cases in the United States. Solar UVB is the type of sunshine responsible for the body's production of vitamin D, and reduced amounts of this sunlight — and consequently, vitamin D intake — have been found to increase risks for certain forms of cancer and, now, autism as well. The researchers also noted that vitamin D deficiencies in pregnant women could be especially problematic, as this could potentially hinder brain development within the fetus.

While there is far from a final verdict on this matter — and there likely won't be for a long time — vitamin D already plays an important role in a number of other healthy bodily functions, from regulating blood pressure and metabolism to fostering brain health and bone strength. A vitamin D deficiency is unhealthy for any child or adult, regardless of its effect on autism.

Check back with our blog for more updates on the potential link between autism and nutrition, and click here to learn more about our D3 vitamin supplements.