Vitamin C is an essential in the body’s defenses against infection. Susceptible children will not tolerate relatively unimportant infections and this can lead to prolonged illness and in the case of behaviorally disturbed children of symptoms previously well managed. Vitamin C is an extremely safe substance which is immensely beneficial to the brain and body in a multitude of ways. Its potential for preventing and treating autism has barely been touched. Vitamin C is heavily concentrated in the brain, but its exact role in brain function has not been fully understood.
A recent search turned up 400 references referring to vitamin C and the effects of the brain, but the mystery still remains.
Since the 1960s when Bernard Rimland initiated research into the use of vitamin B6 alongside magnesium a high proportion of people on the autistic spectrum have benefited from taking more vitamin B6. It is important however, to recognize that only those on the autistic spectrum with a need for Vitamin B6 in particular will benefit from this treatment.
We don’t need to understand the biochemistry to know that vitamin C is indeed very crucial to brain function. The earliest signs of vitamin C deficiency are confusion and depression. Vitamin C also improves cognition, as shown by increased IQ scores in normal and Down’s syndrome children.
Other studies have shown improved EEGs and alertness, as measured in a variety of ways. Hoffer and Osmond, in a series of brilliant studies, showed vitamin C’s effectiveness in treating schizophrenia.
Most of what we hear of vitamin C relates to its role in destroying viruses and bacteria. In a 1995 review, 21 placebo-controlled studies in which giving 1 or more grams of C daily; significantly reduced the severity and duration of colds. But vitamin C’s anti-germ defense is only one of its many roles in the body. Irwin Stone’s superb book The Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against Disease discusses many other ways in which vitamin C protects the body against substances implicated as causative of some cases of autism.
A few examples:
Toxins. Starting back in the 1930’s, studies shown that industrial workers suffering from lead poisoning as a result of their exposure to lead in storage battery plants experienced quick relief from their mental and physical symptoms when given vitamin C supplements. In early 1940, a case of a 27-month-old child who had eaten materials containing lead who improved greatly when given vitamin C supplements.
Vitamin C in autism? Has vitamin C been used in the treatment of autism? I was only able to find only one study in which vitamin C was evaluated as an intervention in autism. The study was initiated by Dolske. The study consisted of a 30-week double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 52 mg/lb.
per day as a treatment for 18 autistic children (ages 6 to 19) in a residential setting. Statistically significant improvement on various outcome measures was reported. But vitamin C is extremely safe, even in massive doses, so it would be well to find out what the optimal dose for autism might be.
We might ask ourselves, what is the safe dose of vitamin C? A lot. Vitamin C expert Robert Cathcart proposes the ;bowel tolerance; method of determining one’s own vitamin C requirement. You simply take increasingly large amounts of vitamin C each day until your body reaches the vitamin C saturation point.
Going beyond that level, the vitamin C becomes a laxative. For most people in good health, the well-tolerated level tends to be about 10 to 15 grams of vitamin C per day. If you start to get sick, your body requires more vitamin C, and your "bowel tolerance" may rise to 30 or 100 or more grams per day. But, according to Cathcart and other experts on vitamin C, increasing your input when you are sick will dramatically abbreviate your illness.
In 1966 VanderKamp published a seldom-cited but significant paper showing that adult schizophrenic men required 36 to 48 grams of vitamin C a day to reach the vitamin C saturation level that control group men reached by taking 4 grams of vitamin C per day. Saturation level was measured by a simple test in which one drop of urine was added to a test tube .