Treatment for individuals with autism typically includes a combination of different types of behavioral therapy; however, in recent years dietary interventions have become more common. Individuals with autism may have limited ability to absorb vitamin B12, which negatively affects their functioning. Vitamin B12 supplements may help improve certain symptoms of autism.
Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin. According to the National Institutes for Health, vitamin B12 naturally occurs in certain foods. Foods such as milk, meat, eggs, and fish naturally contain significant levels of vitamin B12. Individuals can also obtain vitamin B12 through foods that are fortified with the vitamin, such as certain cereals, along with dietary supplements and prescription medications. Dietary supplements provide different forms of vitamin B12; however, the body absorbs only a small percentage of the amount ingested. Prescription forms of the vitamin are available as injections or a nasal gel.
Role of Vitamin B12
The purpose of vitamin B12 in the body is to enhance brain and nervous system functioning. As discussed by Dr. Sonya Doherty, a naturopathic doctor, there are different types of vitamin B12, but methyl B12 is the most critical as it stimulates the biological pathway that provides energy to the brain. B12 helps with cell production, a process known as methylation. Methylation works to produce DNA and RNA, control the immune system, remove heavy metal toxins from the body, and produce proteins. The absence of vitamin B12 causes significant difficulties with cell production and functioning in the brain and body.
A method for delivering vitamin B12 to children with autism is through intramuscular injections. According to Dr. James Neubrander, the proponent of this method, children with autism benefit from vitamin B12 treatments. Methyl B12 injections activate biological pathways and produce the enzyme needed to help detoxify heavy metals and substances. Dr. Neubrander claims that 94 percent of his patients have responded to the treatment. His patients demonstrated improved executive functioning skills such as the ability to remain aware and maintain eye contact, improved language skills, improved social interaction with others, and greater demonstration of emotion. However, no clinical trials have demonstrated the efficacy of this treatment and serious side effects are possible, so consult with a physician and undertake treatment only with caution.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the recommended daily value for vitamin B12 from food intake is 6.0 mcg. For children with autism, Dr. James Neubrander has a recommended protocol for methyl B12 injections. The dose recommended is 64.5 mcg/kg every three days. The methyl B12 solution should be at a 25 mg/ml concentration in order to properly release into the body. Consistent delivery of injections for the first five weeks helps to monitor the child's response and reactions. Injections in the following 18 to 24 months are necessary to achieve maximum effectiveness.