Vitamin A Benefits for Autism and ADHD

Vitamin A is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that supports numerous bodily processes. Fat-soluble means that it must be combined with oily or fatty foods (e.., nuts, milk, olive oil) for proper absorption and nutrient release. There are two forms of vitamin A that can be consumed through food. They are known as preformed vitamin A and provitamin A [1, 2]. 

Preformed vitamin A refers to a group of bioactive nutrients such as retinoic acid, retinol, and retinal, as well as retinyl ester, which is a source of energy that is stored in the liver [2]. Meat, dairy, and fish are the best sources of preformed vitamin A.

Provitamin A, better known as beta-carotene, is the inactive plant-based form of this vitamin. Enzymes in the body convert it into the active form that supports health [2, 3]. Beta-carotene is typically found in carrots, yellow corn, mangoes, papayas, squash, and green leafy vegetables (e.g., amaranth, spinach), [1]. 

Sufficient levels of vitamin A have to be consumed daily because this nutrient influences mental performance as well as the activity and formation of important chemicals in the brain.

Research shows that some children with neurodevelopmental delays such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism have a vitamin A deficiency [4, 5].

The signs of autism are associated with abnormal serotonin activity as levels tend to be elevated in children with this condition in comparison to those who are typically developing [6]. This issue may be linked to a deficiency of vitamin A as research shows that children with autism demonstrate a higher rate of vitamin A deficiency than any other micronutrient (e.g., B vitamins, vitamin D) [7].

Lower Childhood Autism Rating Scale (CARS) scores, which reflect mental performance and behavior, are also observed when low vitamin A levels are measured. Conversely, vitamin A supplementation efficiently lowers serotonin levels in children with autism and this supports improved behaviors [4].

Children with ADHD may also experience cognitive deficits due to low vitamin A levels as this vitamin promotes healthy cognitive function, sensory processing, progressive maturation, and social behavior [5].

Accordingly, studies indicate that children with ADHD and autism have higher micronutrient needs than children who are typically developing, which makes regular nutritional supplementation critical toward enhancing quality of life children with special needs [8, 9]. 

An important strategy involves working closely with a healthcare provider who can periodically repeat the blood test measure to determine whether a child is consuming adequate amounts of vitamin A.

This essential nutrient targets cognitive and behavioral issues in children with developmental delays such as ADHD or autism. Therefore, caregivers and doctors have to work together to support each child’s individual needs.

By addressing potential dietary deficits, My Spectrum Heroes™ ensures that children with autism can receive the vitamins and bioactive compounds that are needed for the healthy growth and maturation of their brains and neurocognitive functions. Unlike other multivitamins on the market,  My Spectrum Heroes Multivitamin Mineral Plus contains both of the forms of vitamin A that we discussed here.

 Click HERE to learn more 

  1. Gilbert C. What is vitamin A and why do we need it? Community Eye Health. 2013;26(84):65.
  2. O'Byrne SM, Blaner WS. Retinol and retinyl esters: biochemistry and physiology. J Lipid Res. 2013;54(7):1731-43.
  3. von Lintig J. Colors with functions: elucidating the biochemical and molecular basis of carotenoid metabolism. Annu Rev Nutr. 2010;30:35-56.
  4. Guo M, Zhu J, Yang T, et al. Vitamin A improves the symptoms of autism spectrum disorders and decreases 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT): A pilot study. Brain Res Bull. 2018;137:35-40. 
  5. Mawson AR. Toward a theory of childhood learning disorders, hyperactivity, and aggression. ISRN Psychiatry. 2012;2012:589792. 
  6. Kolevzon A, Newcorn JH, Kryzak L, et al. Relationship between whole blood serotonin and repetitive behaviors in autism. Psychiatry Res. 2010;175(3):274-6. 
  7. Liu X, Liu J, et al. Correlation between Nutrition and Symptoms: Nutritional Survey of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in Chongqing, China. Nutrients. 2016;8(5). pii: E294. 
  8. Delgado-Lobete L, Pértega-Díaz S, et al. Sensory processing patterns in developmental coordination disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and typical development. Res Dev Disabil. 2020;100:103608.
  9. Clayton G, Carrera HA, Martin ER, Morrison D, Bawazir AA. A Biomedical Approach Via Telemedicine in the Treatment of a Child With Sensory Processing Disorder Using Diet and High-dose Biotin Intervention: A Case Report. Integr Med (Encinitas). 2018;17(4):52-58.

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