Description: Administration of a vitamin, mineral, or nutritional supplement in the form of a pill, powder, liquid, cream, bath, or injection.
Examples: Vitamin A; Vitamin B6; Vitamin B12; Vitamin C; Vitamin D; Magnesium; Dimethylglycine (DMG); Calcium; Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Research Summary: Three small but well-designed studies indicated that B6 with magnesium is ineffective in changing behavior (Findling et al., 1997; Kuriyama et al., 2002; Tolber, Haigler, Waits, & Dennis, 1993), but further study may be warranted (Nye & Brice, 2005).
Small but well-designed studies indicated that omega-3 fatty acids are ineffective in changing behavior (Williamson et al., 2017).
Individual studies addressed Vitamin B12 and L-carnitine but found little evidence of positive effects on behavior (Williamson et al., 2017).
No well-designed studies have evaluated other vitamin and supplement therapies for individuals with autism spectrum disorders.
Recommendations: Researchers may wish to conduct large studies with strong scientific designs to obtain more conclusive evidence on whether B6 with magnesium is effective or not. Other vitamin therapies also may warrant further study. Professionals should present vitamin therapy as unsupported by research and encourage families who are considering this intervention to evaluate its effects and side-effects carefully.
Selected scientific studies:
Kuriyama, S., Kamiyama, M., Watanabe, M., Tamahashi, S., Muraguchi, I., Watanabe, T., et al. (2002). Pyridoxine treatment in a subgroup of children with pervasive developmental disorders. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 44, 284-246.
Findling, R. L., Maxwell, K., Scotese-Wojtila, L., Huang, J., Yamashita, T., & Wiznitzer, M. (1997). High-dose pyridoxine and magnesium administration in children with autistic disorder: An absence of salutary effects in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 27, 467-478.
Tolbert, L., Haigler, T., Waits, M. M., & Dennis, T. (1993). Brief report: Lack of response in an autistic population to a low dose clinical trial of pyridoxine plus magnesium. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 23, 193-199.
Systematic reviews of scientific studies:
James S., Montgomery P., and Williams K. (2011). Omega-3 fatty acids supplementation for autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 11. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD007992.pub2
Nye, C., & Brice, A. (2005). Combined vitamin B6-magnesium treatment in autism spectrum disorder. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 4.
Williamson, E., Sathe, N. A., Andrews, J. C., Krishnaswami, S., McPheeters, M. L., Fonnesbeck, C., … Warren Z. Medical Therapies for Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder—An Update. Comparative Effectiveness Review No. 189. (Prepared by the Vanderbilt Evidence-based Practice Center under Contract No. 290-2015-00003-I.) AHRQ Publication No. 17-EHC009-EF. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; May 2017. doi: 10.23970/AHRQEPCCER189.