ADHD & Autism Assessment: The significance of vitamin D3 deficiency

By Frank J. Granett, Special for USDR

The Price of ADHD Business health segment on The Price of Business radio program recently interviewed Dr. John Cannell M.D.  He specializes in the assessment and treatment of patients battling the symptoms of autism.  Dr. Cannell is the founder of The Vitamin D Council, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, working to educate the public on vitamin D, sun exposure and health.

Over 25 percent of autism diagnoses in the US have a coexistence of ADHD-like symptoms according to data collected by the University of California-Davis Mind Institute.  The consideration of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) nutrition therapy intervention in ADHD as well as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) patients deserves further long term clinical studies.

Vitamin D3 deficiency in ADHD and ASD patients is a common assessment risk factor.  Vitamin D3 is a nutrient involved in helping enzymes produce critical neurotransmitters including dopamine, norepinephrine and acetylcholine.  For example, vitamin D3 increases the enzymatic effects of acetyltransferase in the brain.  The acetyltransferase enzyme helps produce the acetylcholine neurotransmitter which is important in patients with a lack of attention and focus.

Vitamin D3 is also an important consideration in patients with Seasonal Affective Disorders (SAD) co-existing with ADHD.  This co-existing diagnosis is more common in the adult ADHD population since depressive symptoms are more associated with the adult ADHD diagnosis.  More clinical studies are needed to validate why autism and ADHD rates are lower in sunny regions of the US.  Vitamin D3 is naturally produced in the body with the assistance of sunlight.  The D3 is metabolized in the liver producing two direct metabolites which are circulated throughout the body and measured by a simple blood test to assess vitamin D3 status.  This could explain why many patients suffer worse with seasonal depression and ADHD-like symptoms in the dark wintery months.

Although vitamin D3 is classified as a nutrient or vitamin, the scientific community regards this compound as a hormone due to that fact that it plays a critical role in glucose transport into the brain.  Additionally, D3 plays a role in glycogen storage disease prevention.  Glycogen is the chain of individual glucose molecules stored for later use by the body primarily in the liver as well as muscle and fat cells.  Significant vitamin D3 deficiency can cause glycogen storage disease which may contribute to low glucose levels creating a metabolic condition known as reactive hypo-glycemia.  The American Epidemic: Solutions for Over-medicating Our Youth   describes why reactive hypo-glycemia mimics ADHD-like symptoms in children as well as adults….and how to alleviate this metabolic condition.  ADHD-like symptoms require comprehensive assessment by a qualified physician to rule out underlying causes.  Supplementation with vitamin D3 is a consideration as your physician begins the ADHD assessment process.

The diagnosis rate of ADHD in the US exceeds 5 percent in the adult population and over 11 percent in the child population.  The premature prescribing of stimulant drug therapy especially in the young child population requires immediate reform.  Children deserve a voice to uncover the cause of their symptoms by ruling out nutritional, physiological and environmental risk factors.  ADHD stimulant drug therapy may provide short term relief of symptoms.  However, the long term health risk factors are now known.

For more information to find the cause of behavioral conditions visit the Ask The Pharmacist tab at or email pharmacist Frank J. Granett at learn how to effectively supplement your diet.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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