3 Best Supplements For Autistic Adults
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological and developmental condition in which individuals experience challenges with social skills, communication, and repetitive behaviors. The symptoms can appear in different forms for each individual patient, meaning that some types of treatment may be effective or ineffective case by case. In recent years, research has been conducted on the effectiveness of treating ASD symptoms with nutritional supplements either in place of or in addition to pharmacological drugs and behavioral therapy. Supplements may offer an alternative to those who are uncomfortable with prescription drugs or who have found other treatment methods to be unsuccessful.
In this article, we will discuss 3 supplements that can help alleviate some of the challenges and symptoms faced by adults with ASD. Such challenges may include trouble sleeping, vitamin deficiencies, mental health struggles, and problems communicating. The best liquid multivitamin for autism should aim to fill in nutrient deficiencies with a healthy supply of nutrients and may contain the supplements we’ve mentioned here alongside other essential vitamins and minerals. However, remember to talk to your doctor to find out whether or not supplements are the right fit for your unique situation and develop the best treatment plan to meet your needs.
Difficulty sleeping is perhaps one of the most common issues reported by adults with autism. Oftentimes, ASD may be accompanied by sleep disorders, such as insomnia or sleep apnea. In other cases, anxiety and sensory issues may be disrupting sleep for the affected individuals. One supplement that may be able to help these problems is melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally produced by the brain in order to regulate sleep. Usually in response to darkness or at a certain time of day, the brain will begin producing melatonin to facilitate sleep. However, for those with ASD, melatonin production can sometimes be irregular, with a smaller amount of the hormone being produced at night compared to those without ASD (1). As a result, adults with autism often have more trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
One study found that ASD patients who received melatonin supplements experienced immense improvements in their sleeping patterns. Not only was it effective for falling asleep faster, but it also likely increased the overall duration of sleep by reducing the amount of awakenings throughout the night (2). Melatonin may not be able to cure all types of sleep problems, but it does seem to have the potential to improve the nighttime difficulties faced by many individuals with ASD.
Vitamin D & Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Stimming is another common symptom associated with ASD that affects both children and adults. Repetitive, self-stimulatory behaviors like rocking, flapping of the hands, repeating sets of words, and spinning may all be considered forms of stimming. Whether physical or verbal, stimming can help an individual to cope with overwhelming feelings or anxiety-inducing situations, or it may even assist with concentration. These behaviors are not necessarily bad and are typically only cause for concern when they become harmful either to the affected person or to those around them. However, some may find it helpful to utilize therapy or other forms of treatment to reduce stimming. Supplements like vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids may be able to help.
Research has shown that both vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids can be effective autism supplements for stimming. One 2017 study found that supplementing ASD patients with omega 3s improved behaviors related to stimming and hyperactivity (3). Another more recent study indicated similar findings for vitamin D when supplied over a 4 month period (4). In the case of vitamin D, other ASD symptoms were also improved, including those related to social interaction and communication.
Vitamin B6 & Magnesium
Since those with ASD often have very specific preferences when it comes to taste, color, and brands of food as well as other distinct eating behaviors like food refusal, nutritional gaps are not uncommon, especially when such behaviors interrupt a well-balanced diet (5). Multivitamins may be an effective and convenient way to ensure that all nutritional needs are being met despite these behaviors. That being said, some deficiencies may be more likely to occur in individuals with ASD. Magnesium and vitamin B6, two supplements which are frequently recommended to be taken together, may be among the examples.
The reason magnesium and vitamin B6 are recommended jointly is that magnesium is required for the proper absorption of vitamin B6. Counteracting autism vitamin deficiency by supplementing magnesium and B6 has been shown to improve certain behaviors in individuals affected by ASD, including hyperactivity, restlessness, fidgeting, poor concentration, and noise sensitivity (6). This type of treatment can be accomplished via a well-rounded multivitamin that includes both the macromineral and B complex. However, this treatment may be the most effective for those who experience both ASD and magnesium or B6 deficiency, rather than just ASD alone.
- Rossignol, David A. and Richard E. Frye. “Melatonin in Autism Spectrum Disorders.” Current Clinical Pharmacology, 2014, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24050742.
- Galli-Carminati, Giuliana et al. “Melatonin in Treatment of Chronic Sleep Disorders in Adults With Autism: A Retrospective Study.” Swiss Medical Weekly, 16 May 2019, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19452292.
- Cheng, Yu-Shian et al. “Supplementation of Omega 3 Fatty Acids May Improve Hyperactivity, Lethargy, and Stereotypy in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 4 October 2017, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5634395.
- Saad, Khaled et al. “Randomized Controlled Trial of Vitamin D Supplementation in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, January 2018, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27868194.
- Robea, Madalina-Andreea et al. “Relationship Between Vitamin Deficiencies and Co-Occurring Symptoms in Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Medicina, May 2020, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7279218.
- Markham Integrative. “The Importance of Magnesium in Autism & ADHD.” Markham Integrative Medicine, 9 March 2017, https://integrative-medicine.ca/the-importance-of-magnesium-in-autism-adhd.