In addition to the current epidemic of vitamin D deficiency, say another epidemic—an epidemic of autism—was upon our children? What if the autism epidemic began at the same time the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency began? What if both epidemics had worsened in unison? What if one theory explained all the unexplained facts about autism? What if both epidemics had the same root cause: sun avoidance? What if both were iatrogenic, that is, medical advice to avoid the sun had caused both epidemics? Be warned, what follows is not light reading—autism is not a light disease.
The theory that vitamin D deficiency, during pregnancy or childhood, causes autism is just a theory. However, the theory has a plausible mechanism of action, explains all the unexplained facts about autism, subsumes several other theories, implies simple prevention, and is easily disprovable—all components of a useful theory. A genetic lesion (abnormality) in some component of the vitamin D system—a lesion vitamin D’s unique pharmacology could overcome—would explain why monozygotic (identical) twins are highly affected while fraternal twins are not. Varying brain levels of activated vitamin D during later life would explain why some identical twins get severe disease while others are barely affected. Falling vitamin D levels over the last 20 years due to sun-avoidance explain autism’s rapid increase in incidence during that same time. The very different effects estrogen and testosterone have on vitamin D metabolism may explain why boys are much more likely to get it than girls are. Lower vitamin D levels in blacks may explain their higher rates of autism. The vitamin D theory has tenable explanations for all the epidemiological features of autism.
The window of opportunity to affect brain development is limited. Time is of the essence if the vitamin D theory of autism is correct. Ask yourself, what is the risk of taking your autistic child outside to play in the sun? What’s the risk of pregnant women sunbathing for a few minutes every day? Children always played in the sun before the epidemic of autism; your pregnant grandmother spent time in the sun as well. Physicians considered that sunshine was healthy before the sun-scare, that is, before autism became an epidemic.
Dr. Court’s Comments
If you have a child or know someone who has a child with Autism, you should read the above article in its entirety. It is well written and backed by great scientific evidence, but it is too long to post on this blog. The information you can get from http://www.vitamindcouncil.org is priceless. They have a lot of great information on why we as a society are deficient in vitamin D and why that is causing a host of health problems.
I routinely test the serum levels of vitamin D in my patients. I have yet to see someone who is at optimal levels when they start treatment. My educated guess as to how many people are deficient in vitamin D when they start care is about 50%. I have also never seen a blood test of a patient with vitamin D toxicity. Our problem, as a society, is that we have been scared into believing the sun is bad and that it will cause cancer. So, when we go outside, we lather up in sunscreen which prevents us from burning, but also prevents the synthesis of vitamin D. Vitamin D is simply not available in the diet in large enough amounts to be beneficial. I am not suggesting we all go out and burn ourselves outside in the sun. That is not healthy either. You should get outside and get some sun – 20-30 minutes per day in the summer, without sunscreen on. In my opinion everyone must supplement with vitamin D in the winter months. There is no other way to get it in the winter.