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High-Dose Vitamin B6 and Magnesium
Vitamin and mineral supplements are a popular choice for parents as part of a child’s autism intervention because they are inexpensive, natural, and have been known to provide more than nutritional benefits. The Autism Research Institute (ARI), a leader in biomedical treatment research, found that vitamin B6/magnesium were the most commonly used supplements by parents.2 According to ARI, nearly half of the families who have introduced nutritional supplements like B6 with magnesium and DMG have “reported a reduction in behavioral problems as well as improvements in the child’s general well-being.”18 Additionally, the organization reports that these vitamin supplements have also been known to reduce or eliminate seizure activity.19
Researchers have found that “even mild deficiencies of magnesium are associated with irritability, sensitivity to noise, hyper-excitability, apprehension, and belligerence—all problems seen in autism.”20 Over 27,000 questionnaires asking parents to rate biomedical treatments, including specific drugs, supplements, and special diets, have been returned to ARI over the years. Parents have claimed that supplements of Vitamin B6/Magnesium have resulted in their child getting better 49% of the time.21 Vitamin B6 and magnesium are certainly popular dietary interventions, but what research is there to support the supplements as the most used supplement by parents?
There have been over 20 studies conducted on vitamin B6/magnesium, making it one of the most studied biomedical treatments for autism.3 A 2006 article in Autism Research Review International about the use of vitamin B6/magnesium comments on a French study that claims “that megadose vitamin B6 and magnesium therapy markedly improves communication and behavior and aids in normalizing biochemistry in children with autism spectrum disorders.”20 The article also comments on a Japanese study that indicates the benefits of B6 therapy are long-lasting.20 A 2009 review of nutritional supplements for autism provided a grade of recommendation (A-F) based on the research available for each nutritional supplement. Vitamin B6/magnesium earned a grade of C, while melatonin was the only nutritional supplement to receive a grade of A.22 According to the review, there are a number of past research studies that focused on the potential benefits of vitamin B6/magnesium supplements, but “these studies had methodological problems and small sample sizes….the use of B6/Mg for improving autistic behavior could not be supported.”22
As with any other dietary intervention, families should contact their physician before implementing a regiment of vitamin B6/magnesium supplements. Generally, nutritional supplements are available without a prescription, which mean providers tend to have no credentials or qualifications. Furthermore, some manufacturers “make claims about their multi-vitamins [being] specifically for people with autism, although there has been no scientifically valid or reliable evidence to that these are more or less effective than standard preparations.”14
*Parents should exercise caution before implementing any dietary intervention for their child.