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The Vitamin D connection to autism
The autism stats are horrific – more and more families find their bundle of joy, turning into a bundle of terror, as they face the heart ache of raising a little one, that doesn’t really fit into the world.
The trouble begins with a wiring problem, which leads to imbalances in serotonin.
The autistic individual ends up with too little serotonin in the brain and too much everywhere else. Since brain serotonin runs the socializing networks, this shortage creates shortfalls in the ability to interact with others.
The serotonin shortfall
Although the problem only manifests when children are old enough to be attentive to others, the wiring defect is something that happens in the womb.
Serotonin is a morphogen, which means it helps shape the brain.
Adequate levels of serotonin must be present during the brain’s development, to ensure everything is wired correctly, so that the socializing department can come on line – which usually happens at the age of 2 to 3 years.
Why is serotonin missing ?
Genetics definitely contributes to the crossed wiring, but something about the environment in which baby is developing, is underwriting the genes, ultimately interfering with the normal wiring process.
Lots of SOMETHINGS have been implicated :
- Too little thyroid
- Too little vitamin D
Researchers from Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute have unearthed, just how too little vitamin D contributes to bad serotonin wiring.
The recipe for serotonin
To make serotonin, the body begins with a chemical called tryptophan. Your body gets this tryptophan from the food you eat, specifically foods that are protein. An enzyme known as tryptophan hydroxylase enzyme (TPH) begins the process of whipping up a batch of serotonin.
TPH mixes tryptophan, iron and tetrahydrobiopterin in the mixing bowl, to create hydroxylated tryptophan.
Once this has been created, it is really easy for another enzyme to finish off the job, creating 5-hyroxylated tryptophan, better known as serotonin.
Two cooks in the kitchen
Both your body and your brain need a supply of serotonin.
Unfortunately, the serotonin produced by the body, cannot be used by the brain, because it is not able to get through the brain’s security system, the blood brain barrier. To solve this dilemma, you have two different TPH enzymes, to make the serotonin you need. The enzyme which produces serotonin in the body, is called TPH1 and the enzyme that is doing the cooking in neurons, is referred to as TPH2.
Although they both know how to make hydroxylated tryptophan, they run their kitchen’s a little differently.
And this ends up being IMPORTANT.
The brain TPH (TPH2) gets cooking when vitamin D pops into the kitchen. The body TPH (TPH1) on the other hand, stops cooking when vitamin D pops into the kitchen. TPH1 is fascinated by surfing, so he ends up “chatting” to vitamin D, instead of getting on with the cooking.
- When vitamin D is around – lots of serotonin is produced in the brain, but very little is made in the rest of the body
- When vitamin D is not around – production of serotonin in the brain grinds to a stop, but lots of serotonin is produced in the body, where it can get up to mischief causing inflammation.
Serotonin problems may thus begin with vitamin D shortages.
Vitamin D shortages widespread
Stats suggest, lot and lots of people, are short on vitamin D. The primary reason, getting adequate amounts of vitamin D requires regularly spending a little time in the sun, foods are not really designed to provide you with vitamin D.
Unfortunately modern living is an indoor activity….
- We work – indoors
- We play – indoors
- We travel – indoors
On the rare occasions we do venture outdoors, we often take special precautions to COVER UP, layering on sun block etc, to ensure that we are “protected” from the sun.
Moms-2-be must dose up
Adequate levels of vitamin D are needed to produce serotonin in the brain, so everyone should dose up on vitamin D, but it is especially important for Moms-2-be to dose up. The vitamin D will help keep serotonin production on track, shaping how your baby’s brain develops.
The best way to dose up is through sun exposure, because the sun does more than just make vitamin D.
It takes 10-20 minutes or so of sun exposure, a few times a week, to get all you need. A few minutes in the sun will not turn you into a crispy – so no need to worry about SKIN CANCER. And best of all – it’s free.
If spending a little time in the sun is impossible, then you should consider purchasing a vitamin D supplement, as your plan B. If you’re low, you will probably need to take at least 2000 IU per day to get your levels in the normal range.
The missing SOMETHING
Serotonin metabolism is wonky in autism. This research shows just how serotonin metabolism is linked to vitamin D levels and suggests vitamin D is SOMETHING that matters, during pregnancy.
Make sure your baby’s brain has everything it needs to wire up it’s socializing system.
GO SUN TAN your bump.
Women eating lots of fish during pregnancy, may pick up more mercury, but their kids are not at a higher risk of behavioural problems
Babies born to moms who exercise, pop out with lower heart rates because they have strapping sturdy hearts as a result of their in utero exercise sessions.
Baking in the sun for hours , is what increases the risk of SUN BURNS and skin cancer. But you still need a little sun everyday to keep the bugs away.
If you are an expectant Mom or know someone that is – invite them to participate, so they can create Better Body Chemistry during their pregnancy and raise a HAPPY HEALTHY little one.