Nutritional support for speech disorder and autism

Vitamin E and omega-3s dramatically improved symptoms of a speech disorder and autism in a groundbreaking new study.

In a speech disorder called verbal apraxia, people can’t easily plan the facial movements for proper speech. The disorder begins in the brain, where nerve cells that control speech are impaired and unable to translate the intention to speak into the proper muscle movements.

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 cells.

About 200 children with verbal apraxia took 800 IU of vitamin E, 280 mg to 840 mg of DHA and 695 mg to 2,085 mg of EPA per day. After taking the vitamin E and omega-3s, nearly all of the families—97 percent—reported the children had dramatically improved speech, imitation, coordination, eye contact, behavior, and touch and pain sensation. Researchers felt the benefits of taking vitamin E and omega-3s exceeded those from speech therapy alone.

In a subgroup of children that tended to have autism, scientists also discovered that 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.

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