A extra tidbit that I found interesting

Information from Designs for Health Science First.

These results leave me speechless.

Verbal apraxia, a condition often associated with autism, is a speech disorder in which a person has trouble saying what he or she wants to say correctly and consistently.

According to a recent, a group of autistic children who were given a combination of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E demonstrated dramatic improvements in speech, imitation, eye contact, and behavior
Autism Therapy: essential fatty acids (EFA)
essential fatty acids (EFA): Type of fatty acid that must be provided in the diet in order to meet the needs of the body and brain. They have to come from the diet because the body cannot make them from other nutrients.
Factsheet (1)Research (1)News (1)Comments (1)Essential Fatty Acids and Children with Autism
Published Nov 6, 2009, last updated Dec 6, 2009

What is it?
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are compounds that cannot be made by the body, but are required for many crucial biochemical processes. There are two groups of EFAs: omega-6 and omega-3. The relative levels of these two groups of EFAs are critical to the health and development of the brain and the body. If the level of omega-6 is much higher than the level of omega-3 in the diet, there can be negative effects on cognition, mood, and behavior (1-4).

The ideal ratio between these EFAs has been estimated at 2.3:1 omega-6 to 1 omega-3 (5). Most American diets provide too many omega-6 EFAs and not enough omega-3 EFAs, giving a ratio estimated at between 10:1 and 20:1 omega-6 to 1 omega-3 (2-5).

Grains, processed foods, meat, milk, eggs, and corn oil all contain omega-6 EFAs (3, 4); olive oil and walnuts contain high levels of omega-3 EFAs (3). Eggs contain omega-6 and omega-3 EFAs, and eggs labeled omega-3 eggs are from chickens fed a special diet to increase omega-3 concentrations in the eggs. However, the best sources of omega-3 EFAs come from fatty fish such as cod, halibut, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines, and salmon (2-5).

What's it like?
Omega-3 EFAs can be added to a child’s diet with a fish oil supplement purchased over-the-counter or online at a grocery, drug, or health-food store. The supplement can be taken one or more times every day. Children may find swallowing fish oil capsules difficult; several flavored chewable or custard-like options are available (see Resources). Alternatively, adult-sized gel caps can be squeezed into a small child's mouth or "popped" by an older child.

The recommended dosage of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for all ages is at least 650 mg/day total (or 0.65 grams/day). Medical supervision is recommended for daily intakes above 3 grams (5, 6). There has been no research on the optimal dose for children with autism. Research on other disorders shows that the best dose of EFAs depends on the disorder, but seems to range from 1 to 2 grams per day (6, 7). Research on using EFA supplementation to treat autism and related disorders have used doses of omega-3 EFAs at 540 to 2,320 mg per day (0.5-2.3 grams/day) (8-11). If you choose omega-3 EFA supplements as an alternative therapy, ask your child's pediatrician what dose is appropriate for your child (see Is It Harmful?).

The best source of omega-3 oils for vegan and vegetarian families are flaxseed oils and several types of algae, but the EFAs from these sources are not as useful for the body as those in fish oils (3).

What is the theory behind it?
Some scientists have proposed that autism, dyslexia, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and dyspraxia are a related group of neurodevelopmental disorders that are caused by problems in the metabolism of EFAs (3, 12, 13). The idea is that, for unknown reasons, the brains and bodies of individuals with autism and related disorders have problems converting the EFAs from foods into the forms that are necessary for many biochemical reactions (7). In addition, omega-3 fatty acids seem to be lower in individuals with autism than in others (9, 14).

Both of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA have been found to affect many aspects brain function (1, 3). Specifically, changing the amount of DHA and EPA in the diet alters the amounts of certain critical genes in the brain, at least in rats (15). In addition, one study found that giving animals a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 EFAs of about 1:4 improved experimental measures of cognition in the animals (1). Finally, mood and behavior problems in humans have been linked to a lack of omega-3 EFAs in the diet (2 , 3 , 12 ).

Does it work?
Currently there are only a few studies of the effectiveness of EFA supplementation as a treatment for autism (3, 4, 6, 12, 13, 16). For example, most of the parents of eighteen children with autism who had been given fish oil supplements (Eye-Q at 4-8 capsules/day giving 0.6 to 1.2 grams/day of EPA and DHA, or Kirunal at 5 to 10 capsules/day giving 1.2 to 2.3 grams/day of EPA and DHA) for six months described improvements in overall health, cognition, sleep patterns, social interactions and eye contact (9). Unfortunately, this was not a double-blind study, meaning that it was not certain that this was not just a placebo effect. In another case report, a child diagnosed with autism who had been given 540 mg of the omega-3 fatty acid EPA per day over a four week period experienced a complete elimination of his previous anxiety about everyday events as reported by his parents and clinician. They also described an improvement in his overall quality of life (8).

In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 117 children with dyspraxia, a motor disorder frequently associated with cognitive, behavioral and social challenges (12), received fish and evening primrose oil (a source of omega-3 fatty acids) during treatment (10). Significant improvements in reading, spelling, and behavior were reported during the treatment period, and these improvements continued as long as the treatment was underway (10).

Recently a double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of 13 children with autism (5 to 17 years old) was published (11). This study reported reduced hyperactivity and reduced stereotypy (repeated movements like hand-flapping) in children who received 1.5 gm of fish oil per day, as compared to children who received placebo. Another recent study in Egypt reported improvements in behavior, concentration, motor skills, and language in children with autism who were treated with EFA (16). An open-label study of young adults with autism reported no improvements after 6 weeks of fish oil supplements (17).

Is it harmful?
Studies of EFA supplementation at doses between 540 to 2,320 mg per day (0.5 to 2.3 grams per day) have not reported any significant side effects (8-11). As long as EFAs are less than 10% of the total dietary intake, they are considered safe (18). However, several scientists have noted that fish oil supplements can contain contaminants such as mercury, hormones, dioxins, and PCBs (2, 4, 18). Thus, when purchasing fish oil supplements, you should purchase those that are purified by molecular distillation and are described as pharmaceutical grade.

The cost of EFA supplementation depends on the quality of the EFAs. A bottle of 90 capsules containing 500 to 700 mg of EPA and DHA can cost anywhere from $7 to $40. Fish oil that has been purified and tested for contaminants is recommended (4), though these supplements can be more expensive.

Healing Thresholds has partnered with Webvitamins. They have a large selection of top quality vitamins and supplements.

EFA supplements can be purchased at most drug stores and in many online stores.

A book that might be useful:

The Ultramind Solution: Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First by Mark Hyman, M.D., 2008. Scribner Publishers.

Vitamin E
Doctors in a brain and speech study
explained that vitamin E and omega-3
fatty acids protect these speech-control
nerves, and have discovered that some
people with verbal apraxia—common
in autism—have symptoms similar
to vitamin E deficiency. Researchers
said that without enough vitamin E,
fatty acids in cell membranes oxidize
prematurely, leading to impaired nerve
About 200 children with verbal
apraxia took 800 IU of vitamin E plus
280 mg to 840 mg of docosahexaenoic
acid (DHA) and 695 mg to 2,085 mg
of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) per day.
After taking the vitamin E and omega-
3s, nearly all (97 percent) of families
reported the children had dramatically
improved speech, imitation,
coordination, eye contact, behavior, and
touch and pain sensation. Researchers
said the benefits from taking vitamin
Vitamin E and omega-3s
dramatically improved
symptoms of a speech disorder
and autism in a groundbreaking
new study.
E and omega-3s exceeded those from
speech therapy alone.
In a subgroup of children that
tended to have autism, scientists also
discovered that the apraxia is part of
a syndrome that includes low levels of
carnitine and zinc, deficiency in vitamin
D, poor absorption of nutrients, food
allergies, and gluten sensitivity. The
doctors noted a recent study in Pediatrics
that found children born to mothers
with celiac disease were more than three
times as likely to have autism, and that
the findings from the current study add
credibility to recent reports that some
autistic children with apraxia improve
on gluten-free diets.

Reference: Alternative Therapies in Health and
Medicine; 2009, Vol. 15, No. 4, 34-43



Researchers said that without enough vitamin E, fatty acids in cell membranes oxidize prematurely, leading to impaired nerve cells.
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EFA content from Healing Thresholds

Hi, it has come to our attention that this content is directly from www.healingthresholds.com. We appreciate your use of our therapy fact sheets, however, we would appreciate credit for the information. You can find a direct link to this fact sheet: http://autism.healingthresholds.com/therapy/essential-fatty-acids-efa. Thanks so much. Scottie Kersta-Wilson, Editor-in-Chief, Healing Thresholds

me too!

i saw that too - and I want to know what exactly they gave the kids. we do the omega 3, l-caritine, but not speficially vitamin E though I think it might be in some of his other supplements. I'd love to find out the dosage combination - please post if you find it.

Will do

I will see if I can find something Lisa