According to a study published two weeks ago in The Australia & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, pregnant women who took vitamin D during pregnancy had children with fewer symptoms of ADHD. Researchers demonstrated for every 10 nmol/L increase in umbilical blood vitamin D levels, there was an 11% reduced risk of ADHD symptoms.
In this study 1,233 children were monitored. Researchers measured vitamin D levels in umbilical blood and mothers completed the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) when their child was 2½ years of age. The CBCL questionnaire can be used to identify early symptoms of ADHD, but an ADHD diagnosis cannot be made at that age.
The research team demonstrated that mothers who had taken vitamin D and had umbilical blood levels greater than 25 nmol/L had children with lower ADHD scores. This clear association was seen after they had corrected for other factors, such as the mother's age, smoking, alcohol, obesity, education, number of children, psychiatric disease in the parents, child's sex, age and seasonal variation.
Previously, a link between vitamin D and ADHD had not been shown, nor that this link could be identified at such a young age. While past studies have demonstrated the role of vitamin D in early brain development, this study confirms that vitamin D will help protect against ADHD. (However, we still cannot predict which children will develop ADHD later in life.)
An interesting study in February 2015 published in FASEB Journal described that serotonin may be a possible link, and thus demonstrated how vitamin D and fish oil support cognitive function. Many brain-based conditions, such as ADHD, commonly have low brain serotonin. This study explains how serotonin is a critical modulator of executive function, impulse control, sensory gating, and pro-social behavior. Researchers link serotonin production and function to vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which suggests one way that these important nutrients help the brain function and affect our behavior.
The bottom line is this – we need to optimize every patient’s nutrient status based upon testing and support accordingly, and we also cannot forgot the importance of supporting these individuals with essential fatty acids. These are major deficiencies in the US, and assessing and supporting healthy vitamin D and essential fatty acids levels would optimize brain serotonin concentrations and function. As a result, we can possibly prevent and alleviate some of the symptoms associated with these disorders without harmful side effects.
By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS
Source: M. H. Mossin, J. B. Aaby, C. Dalgard, S. Lykkedegn, H. T. Christesen, N. Bilenberg. Inverse associations between cord vitamin D and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms: A child cohort study. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 2016; DOI: 10.1177/0004867416670013