SPECIAL NUTRITION ARTICLE
Hi, I’m Craig Kendall, the author of The Asperger’s Syndrome Survival Guide. In today’s issue we will discuss…
Fish Oil and Vitamin E
Magic Pill for Autism Symptom Relief?
My wife swears by fish oil. She found many years ago, that my son, who has Asperger’s syndrome, communicated better, was calmer and had fewer Asperger’s symptoms when he took fish oil.
So what is so magic about fish oil?
Well apparently, fish oil is a fantastic source of something called omega-3 fatty acids. We really never knew why the fish oil capsules had such a positive effect on our son’s behavior…but they did.
Research Confirms that Fish Oil and Omega-3 Help Children with Asperger’s Syndrome
Would omega-3 fatty acids help YOUR child with Asperger’s syndrome and autism? Well apparently there is a lot of research shows that it could.
According to research published in in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine , daily supplements of omega-3 and vitamin E were shown to improve speech, imitation, eye contact and behavior in children with autism. 97% of the families in the study reported dramatic improvements in speech and other common symptoms of autism and Asperger’s syndrome.
The research reported that a combination of omega-3 fats and vitamin E was particularly effective in speech improvements in autistic children with verbal disorders such as apraxia. Verbal apraxia is a speech disorder common in autism, and an estimated 50 percent of children with autism have apraxia. It is a complex syndrome that affects neurologic function.
Details from the Study Showing Improvements in Autism Symptoms
Claudia Morris from the Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland (CHRCO) and Marilyn Agin of the Saint Vincent Medical Center in New York conducted a study with families and their children with autism. In their research the families used doses of 800 IU of vitamin E with average consumption of omega-3 between 280 and 840 mg DHA and 700 to 2,000 mg EPA. Apparently this combination of both Vitamin E AND omega-3 was much more effective in helping children with autism than taking omega-s fatty acids (e.g., fish oil capsules) alone. Their research reports that 97% of the participants with apraxia (speech problems) and/or common autism symptoms reported dramatic improvements taking the combination of omega-3 and Vitamin E.
Several other studies have also shown improvements in children with autism including a study outlined in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16920077 ] from the Department of Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
What Should a Parent Do?
Since I found this (and other studies) we ensure that our son takes both the fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) and vitamin E each morning. The way my wife and I think about it is that vitamins and natural substances like fish oil could only help. So we are big proponents of natural supplements to help our children.
I personally take fish oil every day as does my wife. My physician has recommended fish oil for the arthritis in my hands. Apparently is can help lots of conditions.
I personally think everyone should be taking fish oil and Vitamin E. I do daily. So do my kids. I recommend that you choose a product that has a very high concentration of the important omega-3 fatty acids. If you look on the labels of the fish oil products they list something called “DHA” and “EPA”. Like everything else, you tend to get what you pay for. Many source of omega-3 have fairly low concentrations of DHA and EPA.
Take Fish Oil with Vitamin E
Make sure that you combine fish oil and vitamin E. This combination has been shown in scientific journals to be particularly effective…apparently more effective than fish oil alone.
What product do I use?
I recommend a particular product. But my family uses supplements from a company in San Diego called NutraFoods.
I have met the president of the company, Dr. Howe, and trust their products. I have spoken to Dr. Howe and he has explained why it is so essential to get fresh fish oil (apparently there is a shelf life issue) and to ensure the fish oil has a high concentration of DHA and EPA.
The fish oil product NutraFoods sells is great, you only have to take one because they are so concentrated and there is no fishy tasting burp-back with these capsules like you find with many other fish oil capsules. With other fish oil products, our kids had to take multiple capsules and sometimes my kids would burp. This made it harder for us to get our children to cooperate and take the capsules.
And if you want a great alternative to capsules, NutraFoods has released a new fish oil liquid. This is absolutely delicious (it tastes really good–I swear!). I now take it. Not a hint of fish oil taste and the highest concentration of Omega-3 DHA/EPA, a whopping 1,500mg per tablespoon. You may want to check out the other products specifically formulated for children with autism that NutraFoods sells.
NutraFoods also has created fish oil and vitamin E in the exact combination that the scientific studies showed were most effective in helping children on the autism spectrum (Fish Oil & Vitamin E). This also makes it easy for my wife and I to know that we are giving our kids the combination and concentrations that are most effective.
Why do I strongly recommend NutraFoods?
Honestly, there are a lot of companies that manufacture and sell both fish oil and vitamin E. However, you have to be careful what you buy. If you look at the packaging, with some you have to take two capsules in order to get the recommended daily dosage. We have a difficult enough time getting our kids to take the liquid fish oil! I can’t imagine having to have a child swallow two capsules each morning. Others recommend a lower concentration of the important Omega-3 ingredients that scientific studies say you need.
NutraFoods Fish Oil/Vitamine E combination was specifically formulated to meet the recommendations of the scientific study referenced above. And their quality levels are the highest in the industry. I trust them…you can too.
Fish oil is not all the same. It depends on where the fish are from, the temperature of the water, how the fish are processed…and so forth…and so on. Wow there was a lot to learn. Luckily I did not have to learn it all.
Nutrafoods has packed exactly the right type of fish oil and Vitamin E in exactly the proportions specified in the scientific study. I buy for my family the Platinum Duo Package which is liquid fish oil that tastes great plus Vitamin E in exactly the right proportions that the science says those on the spectrum need.
NutraFoods often offers BIG DISCOUNTS. Click here to see what specials are currently running.
But how can I get my kids to take fish oil and vitamin E?
It is hard to get children to take any type of pill. Whether it is a vitamin or a fish oil capsule does not matter. Kids will be kids. And our son was no different. Routine is Important for Kids with Autism/Asperger’s Syndrome. Use routine to your advantage.
When my wife first put my son on fish oil supplements, he resisted. But she has more will power than he did (never fool with a mother on a mission). So every morning, both of our sons (one with Asperger’s, the other a regular neurotypical boy) always got their fish oil tablets. Yes, occasionally she had to remind them to take the capsules…as she run out the door with the capsules in her hand insisting that they take them.
But routine helps. As most all of you moms have figured out, children with Asperger’s syndrome or high functioning autism are creatures of routine. That is a double edged sword. It is tough getting a child to start taking fish oil capsules each morning. But once the routine is established it was pretty easy to keep it going. That is why it is critical to never change the routine and make sure your loved one takes their fish oil supplements every day.
Source: Alternative Therapies in health and medicine, July/August 2009, Volume 15, Number 4, Pages 34-43, “Syndrome of allergy, apraxia, and malabsorption; Characterization of a neurodevelopmental phenotype that responds to omega-3 and vitamin E supplementation.”]
 Source: Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation in children with autism: a double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled pilot study. Department of Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. firstname.lastname@example.org
Other related articles:
- My Child with Autism Is a Picky Eater. What Can I Do?
- Will a Gluten and Casein Free Diet Help Your Child’s Asperger’s Syndrome?