Dietary intervention for autistic children involves firstly the removal of all gluten, casein and soy from their diet as discussed in a previous article, Autism and good nutrition. Secondly, due to the heavy metals in their system that inhibit the uptake of vitamins and minerals, autistic children require supplementation. Calcium is the main nutrient children need to supplement, as the deficiency of calcium causes abnormality of the bones, also known as “rickets”. Recommended daily intake of calcium is set between 600 & 1200mg. It is best to take calcium supplements throughout the day for maximum benefit as their bodies are unable to absorb more than 5oomg at a time.
In order for calcium to be taken into the bones, vitamin D and vitamin K are required. Ultraviolet rays from the sun cause cholesterol in the skin to convert to vitamin D, however for obvious reasons, be careful not to over do it! 10 – 20 minutes a day is ample. Vitamin C is also a great one to supplement as it is not only necessary for strengthening the immune system, but it is reported as being another key player in the absorption of calcium. Boron, copper, hydrochloric acid, citric acid, glycine, and lysine are all important vitamins and minerals that the body uses to absorb calcium.
Not only is calcium essential for bone health in our autistic children, it is also needed for the absorption of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is important for brain function and the immune system. It helps with digestion and supports energy, prevents heart disease, stroke and nerve damage.
While calcium is important for many functions, it is also important to note that too much calcium is harmful for the body. It can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb zinc, vitamin K, iron and magnesium as well as causing constipation, hardened arteries, kidney stones and bone spurs.
If you are concerned about the amount of calcium your autistic child needs, please contact your health practitioner for advice.
The following list of foods are a good source of calcium:
In order for autistic children to maximise the absorption of their calcium, we need to ensure they avoid the following: Acidic foods, aspirin caffeine, chocolate, processed corn, dried fruits, high amounts of fat, honey, white bread, processed soy beans, wheat, soft drinks, sugar & white vinegar.